Tuesday, November 14, 2006

How to we select volunteers?

Well that in a way is a very silly question. People volunteer because they want to do what ever task they are passionate about. The problem is as byevad and Danny pointed out we must protect those who are susceptible to harm not just physically but spiritually. That doesn’t just apply to our youth us adults can fall prey to the false word.

The thing is when a new comer walks in those doors and offers to help we need to let them help somewhere that is fulfilling and will spark their passion to serve. Nothing personal but telling someone to just hand out bulletins might extinguish the fire to help. Sure it’s an important job I love those who do it where I attend but it’s not my passion. I love greeting people when we have special occasions but I want to be in the sound booth, it’s my passion. I’ve been a leader of a women’s group, a Sunday school teacher, the teacher’s assistant, a greeter for a Group publishing event, dish washer, MOPS hospitality leader, worked in the kitchen, spackled and painted, helped in children worship, LTC drama leader, and many more things. The thing is that we can easily toss a good volunteer away, they most likely will stop volunteering or find a place where they feel needed. I walked away the first time I offered to help out and wasn’t just turned down I was down right ignored, it took me years to go back to trying to help. Now I’m full in because of the passions God gave me.

Volunteering gives ownership to the church

That’s right it gives ownership. The more that people are involved the more they care about the life of the church.

Volunteering brings up tithing for some

They have seen first hand where the money goes and needs to go. The first project my husband did at our church was to rebuild a wall, paid for mainly out of our pockets. He said he wanted to and no one stopped him even though he was rather new to the congregation. Now he’s the ministry leader. He wasn’t told you can’t do that because. . . .

We also have to make sure that everyone is involved who needs to be.

I don’t know if you heard of ruffled feathers in other ministries like we have. In December we have a huge project coming up, the baptistry, and brand spanking new one is waiting to go in. This involves several ministries from those who keep the plants around it to people who want to be baptized while the thing is out. It would be very easy to step on toes, yes we are suppose to be Christians and grown ups and I need not say more?

The un believer who wants to help.

The Habitat House, building a neighbors fence, serving food to the homeless, a community project, we all should be aware that non believers are around us we may not be the seed we might be the fertilizer that makes that seed sprout. We should always be aware of those who might just need us to shine a little light on the beginnings of a new Christian.

I haven’t seen an un believer in the teaching area perhaps some of you have, I haven’t. Please give examples if it’s happened to you.

There is always room for one more to hold a paint brush, fix a toilet, help in the kitchen, the food bank, work sound, and so many other areas. If they walk in that door they believe something, they are wanting for something, you need to find out what their passions are and help them become a Christian.


codepoke said...

I was blown away when I was asked to collect the tithe on my fifth visit or so to my church. It was an uncomfortable ethical quandry for me. I reject the paid pastorate, only barely tolerate the building, and don't believe in denominational taxes.

And there I was passing around the trays.


(Yes, I give money. I don't let a little thing like not believing in it stop me.)

I yearn for the day that people are ministering Christ to each other, and not just handing out bulletins.

It can happen.

Milly said...

I was surprised that my husband was asked to pass communion without being asked if he was baptized full in. I’m guessing the man that asked him thought he must have been since he was taking communion.

It’s kind of funny that you were asked to pass the plate being how you weren’t for it all. Hmmm was God speaking to you?

byevad said...

CP, I believe it can happen too. But it takes a very dedicated group to make it happen. The whole group needs it to work.

I shared a bit about my experience in 2005 (in Milly's earlier post) when our church was without a minister. We had ZERO paid staff. It was all volunteer. It was a very challenging time for us. I was asked by the minister of one of our sister churches, "What plans do you have for building from here?" (meaning maturing and developing faith in the Christians). My response was, "We've got all we can do to just maintain what we've got. We are in survival mode."

We don't have a building that is our own, we rent space. Both have their own set of administrative head-aches that someone needs to tend to. That time in 2005 made me realize just how much the minister of our church did (administrative, ministerial, etc). Not to say that some of it couldn't be done by others -- in fact we learned alot from that time. (Disclaimer: our church family has always had an emphasis on people ministering to each other so that it doesn't become a one-man show. But there are types of people who "need" a leader -- look at 1 Cor 1:12 to see that this is not a new phenomenon.)

Anyway, I guess a long winded response to say that I agree that it is possible, it just takes a special group to pull it off.

And for the record, I agree with your post Milly. People need to feel invested and needed. I also gave the example of handing out bulletins as an example of one of the no-brainer, it's okay for an unbeliever to volunteer for. It also was a real life example of a question of "Can I help you?" I got from someone visiting one of our services. My response? "Absolutely!" as I handed them half the stack of bulletins...

codepoke said...

Hmmm was God speaking to you?

Saying what?

"Will you, too, help the kingdom prostitute herself?"

"Will you become a tax collector for the weekly denominational shakedown?"

To me ushering is just another example of things that can safely be done without acknowledging Christ as Lord. The fewer of those types of jobs there are, the better.

But, I realize that there are always going to be these types of job.

Ownership is critical. It is for this reason I believe the church should be almost all volunteer. But that cannot work under certain church structures. It's like earning $40,000 a year, and buying a boat. You may be able scratch together enough to buy the boat, but you cannot keep it up. The annual drain of maintenance, repairs, fees and hours will kill you.

When we take our churches to "the next level," we make a burden for ourselves that we cannot sustain. We need to keep the building poor, and the love rich.

Missy said...

Milly - great post! I was glad to be directed this way.

I guess what this discussion brings to mind is my first year of marriage. My husband was so proud to be married - he would not let me lift a finger. At first, it was nice, then shortly after I was desperate to contribute. I remember sneaking home early from work to mow the lawn because he had been too busy to do it. He was so mad! But by the end of that first year, I had become a little spoiled. I still struggle with expecting him to take care of everything for me, and believe me he sure regrets that early training.

I think we shouldn't push newcomers (believers or unbelievers) to jump in head first. But if they seem eager to help, help them find ways. You are right that telling them they can't can make them feel left out - but it is also very prideful.Of course I find humility to be one of Jesus' more difficult traits to imitate!

And then, let's say you you turn them down for six months and "decide" they are ready. WHAM! They are either overloaded by all the requests for help, or they have completely lost heart, or even have the comfortable expectation that helping is just not necessary.

BTW - on the flipside, I know many "churched" people that church-hop the minute they feel compelled by either man or Holy Spirit to volunteer.


byevad said...

CP, I'll agree to disagree on some points. But I wholeheartedly agree on the thrust of (what I believe to be) your point: the love within must be rich.

Regardless of the "church structure" (there are few scriptures that talk about what the church structure should be), the makeup of the worship service (again, few scriptures that define what that should be), or where a worship service should be held, Jesus words still ring true: "By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another." (Jn 13:35)

jel said...

this is good post,

Danny Kaye said...


Thanks for the thoughts Mil-gurl (and everyone else, too) Great stuff.

As I was reading this thread I couldn't shake this confounded question out of my head:

Is the Church about volunteerism?

And I kept answering with "Yes" "No" "Yes" "No" etc...

I understand that everyone who is a disciple of Jesus is called to serve Him and others. And serving (when done willingly and wholeheartedly) is simply volunteering. So "yes", the Church is ALL about volunteerism. And we need to display that passion to serve to anyone who comes into our fellowship, Christian or not.

But I also kept answering "No." The Church does not need to get all weird about making a stranger aware that some things are off limits to them. We are not there to volunteer. Don't get me wrong. I love when strangers come in and want to serve. GREAT! Let them where and when it is appropriate. But there needs to be a line in the sand that is drawn when the stranger wants to do something that is clearly not appropriate for strangers to do. (ie: teach children, count contribution,...etc). I know CP wishes it were not so, but there are plenty of other things that a stranger can do. Rather than get weird, the Church should direct them to a "safe" area of service. If the stranger is not willing to serve in a "lesser" way, then there is a wonderful Bible study just waiting to happen with the man (or woman). You can crack open the Book and show the ways Jesus served. Or better yet, if the stranger wishes to serve, ask them to help with one of the elderly who REALLY need help at home doing chores or shopping. That would be a greater service than anything they could "do" at a worship service.

One more thing, I think...

I have to ask, why would we have a stranger serve in any capacity? It seems to me that if a stranger has walked through the doors, that person should not be distracted by needing to "do" something. And this is especially true during the communion, or a message from the preacher. It's hard enough for a guy who has been around for almost 2 decades to focus on the cross while doing another task. Let alone a stranger. As Milly pointed out, that person has come through the doors wanting something that they think they can find during that worship service. Let's let them find it, distraction-free.

The Church is not a club. Nor are the worship services a devotion to volunteerism. The Church is the people of God, His children, royal priests...etc. And worship services are dedicated times to focus on God with all our hearts and minds. Although we are to eagerly, warmly, and enthusiastically welcome someone who comes through those doors to worship with God's people, they should also see that we are God's unified family, there to give Him the entirety of our focus. And that person should leave wanting to be a part of it.

codepoke said...

I respect the disagreements, byevad, and agree that love is the central thing.

Gordon Cloud said...

This is a good post, Milly. One thing that I have seen happen too many times is that people who really don't have a passion for a job are asked to serve in it because they seem qualified or it is their family tradition or whatever, while those who have a passion for the same job are overlooked because they are new.

Milly said...

Welcome and thank you I had no idea that my Saturday would lead to such a great discussion.

I never thought to just run away when approached to help. I have crossed my arms and said “NO”

Is the church about volunteerism?

I sat at that seminar listening to them try to rename the word volunteer and it could be because I’ve been a volunteer for a long time in the PTA and in the church that I think the word is a nice thing. That’s what I do it’s my calling No matter how you change the phraseology it’s still what it is. And is the church about it? Good question. I believe it has to be, as I said it gives ownership. When my dad ran the juvenile home and a kid broke a window he taught them how to fix it. They then felt ownership for the window and a respect for other windows. Plus they felt good about themselves. If you paint a wall and your children see you they too have ownership and respect for the wall and the person who painted it. My children will happily tell you that what we have done in the church.

I would think that if someone who is new to the church, say it’s the fist time in the building and they offer, as byevad said to help with the children, they will most likely be relieved to hear that there are safety measures involved. If someone walks in cold and asks to teach or visit with the elderly I throw up a big red flag. The thing is that this a rare bird, not too many do that I have yet to hear someone come in and ask. Most want to see what we are all about first. I was blessed to have lunch with my associate minister and his family and another family they wanted to know more about our church and where we were on ministries they wanted a church that would allow the passion they have for a ministry to thrive, we gave them the name of another couple that might be interested in being involved. I asked if donations might be needed. When they are ready to get it going we will support it. The thing is that most don’t walk in with that kind of plan. Most of us visit, listen, wait to meet others, take a class, then when we find our comfort zone we volunteer. Or someone drags us into it.

Yes folks I said drags one of my best friends made me feel as if Lucy and Ethel had hit the PTA at times. I loved it broken nails and all.

We all agree that volunteering must mean making sure that the church is safe.

As for asking a stranger to help two thing come to mind.
1.Asking someone you just met to hang out with you might be a nice thing to do if you have just established that they might enjoy helping.

2. I don’t think anyone said that they have asked a stranger to help. It was about someone asking a person that just came in. I’m sure we have some very zealous folks out there who think that might be a great idea I’m not one of them, I might run if I was asked from the get go to do something. If they ask then yes find something for them to do they want to know the church and you some how they connect with you and feel comfortable enough to ask.

I would bet you all learned from taking over the ministers responsibilities. We went for years without a lead minister, we were blessed to hear several ministers speak from other churches and universities. Our church has over 600 people in it we must rely on volunteers to step up a minister and an associate minister just can’t do it all. They are constantly telling my husband to get more volunteers to help him with projects. It’s a good thing to work side by side brothers and sisters. I do see burn out and we all get it. God understands and forgives us for putting ourselves in the situation in the first place, I find myself testing my limits and trying not to be angry when I hit the wall.

Gordon cloud,

Good point!

At times I can’t take the please give more sermons I want to throw change from the booth in hopes that the minister or the elder asking would shut up and give me some God. The thing is that I work in two ministries that need that donation for up keep. I do understand how a building can become a liability sometimes it feels as if we are rowing the canoe with water bottles tied to it, it may keep us working hard but we aren’t getting to shore very quickly.

Now on ushering. I have a special place in my heart for those men in my church because they ask the teens to help and that’s very cool to see. I happen to adore the two men who take care of us they go out of the way to be sure we are served, they make sure that we are doing well. One always tells me how good things sound no matter how it’s going, he sponsored my son in an event not long ago. That’s the thing you get to know faces because most people sit in the same place most of the time you notice when they aren’t there, that’s an opportunity to minister to someone with a note or a call. When my son was smaller one usher use to stand in the back and make faces at him making him giggle. I got to know his family and hated to see them move, one son still runs over to hug me. The next time I see them will sadly be at a funeral I’m afraid, his father-in-law isn’t doing well. See this can be a rich and wonderful place to serve. I’ve seen man make it that way. I suppose you can do the job and not believe but can you do it and not be touched? (Place optimistic smile here ;-}

As for paying a minister, I have no problem with it we have a very gifted man preaching in our church, I’m not sure he could do what he does if he worked another job. I’m not opposed to a neighborhood familyhood, I see pros and cons on both sides. This is where God has called me to be. Perhaps He is teaching you and I new things, I know not so long ago I wouldn’t have thought about holding a church service in my home.

I was very surprised by this discussion I honestly didn’t think there was that much to say. I guess that’s why Group has those seminars. I recommend them BTW. They have a fun video on the web site about volunteers one man is in the parking lot yelling “We’re gonna have to shut this place down” http://www.churchvolunteercentral.com/Video/video_outside.asp We feel that way at times and those that have to hear us nagging them about helping most likely want to run away at times.

When I was a volunteer in cub scouts I was committee chair, den leader, and round table staff. On top of that I volunteered at church, with the PTA, and MOPS. A wise fellow scouter told me don’t say no thank you, don’t say well I’m honored, don’t say I’ll think about it, say NO!
I’m getting better. We have to learn how to say no and we have to learn when to ask for help. Did you know that you will get turned down more by making a general asking for help then if you ask one on one. It’s true. I learned this from another wise scouter. If you ask giving ALL of the details you will get a better response. People hear a general announcement and think someone else is going to do it or I’ll sign up latter so make the general announcement then recruit, someone might be honored that you asked ;-}

Thank you and may God bless your ministry.

Milly said...


That doesn't work this does


Just click on the video box on the right, it’s a funny one.

codepoke said...

Great answers, Milly. Thank you.

Milly said...

Please over look all typos!

DugALug said...

Please over look all typos!

To whom much is forgiven... well you know the rest.

Some really good stuff here Milly.

God Bless

harland said...

I appreciate it