St. Peter Lutheran, Arlington Hts, IL: Beginnings


I began working 2 days/week at St. Peter Lutheran Church, Arlington Heights, Illinois, in October 2007, 9 months ago as of this writing. St. Peter had been without a long-term senior pastor for almost a decade until the arrival of Rev. Ted Andrada in January 2007. Rev. Andrada and I agreed that my goal would not be to recruit or direct all the church’s volunteers, but to help individuals find places to serve according to their gifts and to help all of us become better at helping each other serve.

I decided on these priorities:

  1. Get the word out about my purpose and goals; get to know the leaders; hear their concerns
  2. Build teams of volunteers to help me in each area of my job.
  3. Make a visible difference as soon as possible.
  4. Focus first on helping new members find places to serve.
  5. Hold off on a major recruitment push until we have a system and people in place to follow up on the many people that we pray will respond.

What’s been done:

We added staff volunteerism training . . . to our staff meetings.

    1. I wrote a mission and vision summary.
    2. I met individually with each professional and support staff person to hear their concerns and share my vision.
    3. I met with groups of volunteer leaders (our Board members, Social Ministry commission, Youth commission, etc.) to hear their concerns and share my vision.
    4. We added staff volunteerism training regularly to our weekly staff meetings. We’re now doing Betty Stallings’ “Training Busy Staff to Succeed with Volunteers” series, with the lesson on “Delegating to Volunteers” in May and “Designing Positions for Volunteers” scheduled for July.
    5. New members
      1. Pastor Greiner, our outreach pastor, recently redesigned our new member classes. He teaches one session on vocation and I teach one session on serving in the church. Using Pastor Greiner’s template, I created a brochure on serving at St. Peter.
      2. Met individually with most of the December 07 new member class.
      3. This spring, I recruited and trained 6 people to meet with new members. We call them Ministry Guides. Four of them each met with one person or couple from the March 08 class and they are now doing the same with the June 08 class.
      4. I did not have time to meet with the rest of the March 08 class members, but will come back to them later this summer. I have begun meeting with the rest of the June 08 class.
    6. With our membership secretary, I reviewed our current membership database, ACS Technologies’ People Suite. We added a web-based component (AccessACS) through which trained volunteers can add/edit certain member information (such as new member contacts and ministry participation) from home.

Job descriptions [are] visible to the whole congregation.

  1. Gathering job descriptions has the plus of creating something visible to the whole congregation. I used my “Job Descriptions” powerpoints to recruit and train a team of two to head this endeavor. We have requested and are now receiving the submissions. By fall, we’ll have a printed version but we’ll be putting them up on the church website as they come in.
  2. To measure our starting point and future progress, we did a simple “first annual” congregational survey during worship on a May weekend. I found the survey among the Church Volunteer Central resources. Several volunteers entered the results in Excel and another volunteer (see my blog entry about her) built a Microsoft Access database to generate reports, such as this summary report.
  3. I’m beginning to put together a data entry volunteer team. The volunteer who built the survey database is helping dig into the details of using our church database to:
    1. Record each person’s participation in ministry, through rosters which I’ve requested from each ministry leader
    2. Record follow-up on each new member visit, as staff and volunteer leaders are asked to contact new members who’ve expressed interest in their ministry area. The record remains “open” until my data entry volunteers and I have information that the follow-up has been completed.
    3. Record information on each person’s “shape” for service: spiritual gifts, inteests, abilities, personality, and education/experience. We’re still experimenting to find the most helpful way to record such information.
  4. I took responsibility for the initial organization of and the recruiting for two new ministries: Welcome Center volunteers, and set-up and take-down crews for a contemporary worship service in our gym. These were time-consuming projects, but also opportunities to practice what I preach and to get to know more people.

What’s gone well:

  1. Staff and volunteers are very supportive and encouraging; I couldn’t ask for more support! The need for improving our working together is universally acknowledged. I especially appreciate staff cooperation in the training we’ve done together.
  2. God has provided good volunteers to work with me on visiting with new members, publishing job descriptions and doing database work.

What I’d do differently:

I bit off more than I can comfortably chew . . .

  1. I bit off more than I can comfortably chew and underestimated the amount of my two days each week taken up by meetings, individuals’ needs/questions, etc. I’m behind on my new member visits and the database entry work is going slower than it should. Some things are piling up on my desk.
  2. I wish I’d made risk management in our children’s ministries a first priority rather than just getting to it now.

Next steps:

  1. Review risk management procedures, including volunteer screening
  2. Our May survey revealed that more people are serving than any of us realized. I’d like to create a Volunteer Affirmation/Appreciation team to bring more visibility to all that’s being by our volunteers.
  3. In 08-09 school year, I want to increase and support our short-term volunteer opportunities, especially one-day ministry and mission opportunities in our community.
  4. To do a major ‘everyone serving!’ emphasis in fall 09, we need to start building teams for it in spring 09.
  5. Despite wanting to move forward, I resolve to make sure current accomplishments are firmly established and well supported before adding more to my plate!

Karen Kogler
[email protected]
Director of Volunteer Equipping
St. Peter Lutheran Church, Arlington Heights, IL

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