We have amazing volunteers at Grace. I’m always encouraged by the different ways that I see people using their gifts to demonstrate their faith and love. Yet there are some people who don’t volunteer. They hear about the needs and the opportunities, but don’t respond. One good reason can be because they’re just settling in. We encourage people to attend for several months before they start getting involved in ministry because it takes time to get to know people and get a feel for the church. But there are other reasons. Recently, I read an excellent article by Carey Nieuwhof on the “7 Questions Every Volunteer Asks But Never Says Out Loud.” It looks at some of the reasons that a disconnect can develop between ministry leaders and potential volunteers. Let me share Nieuwhof’s questions along with some comments in response to them.
1. Is this really about the Mission?
Sometimes, it’s hard to see the connection between setting up some chairs and the immigrant’s lives who are being impacted by our ESL ministry, or a warm greeting from a parking lot attendant and the salvation of someone who trusts Jesus after a worship service. But the Bible calls the church a body and its impact is only felt as its various parts work together. If you’ve ever been blessed by the ministry of the church, the blessing has come only as each member has played its role. As a church, we’re seeking to reach our community with the good news about Jesus and every win is a team effort.
2. Are the relationships around here healthy?
The church brings together people from a diversity of cultures and generations. Often, it’s only our faith in Christ that unifies us and even that is a work-in-progress. Despite that, I’m encouraged by the health of the relationships I see at Grace and the way I see people working at health when unity doesn’t come easily. If you’re in a ministry and the relationships aren’t healthy, the ministry leader really needs to hear that.
3. Will serving help me grow spiritually?
I wouldn’t just say that serving helps a person grow spiritually, I would go as far as to say that not serving is a major source of stagnation in a person’s relationship with God. Jesus promised that through faith in Him, we would become channels of the Holy Spirit’s life-giving power (John 7:38). The fact is that if the output side of our channel is blocked up, the input will always be limited.
4. Am I just a means to an end?
Nobody wants to feel used. In one sense, all of our lives should be given over to God’s glory and any serving opportunity is a means to glorify God. But I’m encouraged when I see our ministry leaders caring for the team with whom they serve. We’re seeking God’s pleasure in what we do, but everyone wants to know that their contributions are valued and appreciated.
5. Will you help me develop the skills I need?
Nobody wants to be involved in something they feel unprepared to do well. Over the last couple of years, we’ve worked hard to better equip our volunteers to serve effectively. All of our roles now have job descriptions and requirements that you can ask for. Some of our teams have taken part in seminars, coaching and in-house training. And we’re looking to develop more opportunities for this so if there’s a ministry skill you feel your team needs help in developing, let me know.
6. Are you organized, or are you going to waste my time?
Organization, preparation, and punctuality make serving a pleasure rather than a chore. This is something that we try to work on, but if you’re in a ministry where disorganization robs your joy, the ministry leader really needs to hear this feedback.
7. So, am I signing up for life?
Signing up for a ministry should never feel like a life sentence. Every believer should be committed to a lifetime of serving God, but ministry priorities change over time and so we encourage people to commit to a ministry for a year at a time.
If you’re a follower of Christ, I pray that you’ll serve as His hands and feet. If you need help in trying to understand how, let’s talk about it. It’s too important of an area to neglect.
In awe of Him,