5 WAYS TO PASTOR VOLUNTEERS
Over the years I’ve become expert at deciding what to do, but not necessarily how it should be done. It’s been a challenge for me, since the “how” is often the fun part, but my friend Greg Gallagher cautioned me that the fun shouldn’t be mine. Len Sweet told me something similar when he said, “David, you’ve got to be the straight man. Set the stage for everyone else to be the star.”
But as much as I’ve come to accept my friends’ wisdom, sometimes the gap between what I want our church to do and how I want those things to be accomplished is too large for people to cross quickly. Take, for example, our Kingdom Quotient at Westwinds. This component of our ministry philosophy is designed to help our people differentiate charity from mission. Charity isn’t bad, but we had noticed that many folks at The Winds were most comfortable helping others without involving Jesus. They would give a cup of soup in Jesus’ name, so long as they never had to mention the name of Jesus.
Which is a problem.
So we started teaching our church that the Kingdom Quotient—the things that make our noble efforts in the world uniquely Christian—involved
- elevating the name of Jesus
- understanding the biblical foundation for our actions
- inviting the Spirit to change us as we work
- including our church as part of the story
Over time, we’ve become accustomed to talking about both Jesus and Westwinds—especially as we engage outsiders—but we still struggle with knowing how to pastor our own people in the midst of our activities. For example, we don’t know how to help our people understand the biblical foundations of running an obstacle course race while we’re outside racing the waning daylight and building obstacles. It feels like a crummy time to do a Bible study, and an even worse time to have everyone sit quietly in a circle and wait for the Lord to reveal his will. It feels worse still to suggest that all our volunteers come back another night to do a separate Bible study, since that doubles the time required of them—meaning less time with their families, less time resting, less time spent healthily at home, etc.
So, for once, let me break the rule and offer 5 ways we can pastor our volunteers, focusing specifically on helping them understand the biblical foundations of what we’re doing and how they can invite the Spirit to change them as they do it.
- Little notes and cards. Whether through fancy notecards or plain Facebook messages, a short personalized message is still the way to go for most people. It lets them know you care about them personally and gives you the opportunity to insert a short bit of encouragement into their day.
- Prayer and conversation during the time they are serving.
- Prayer and conversation outside of the time they are serving (coffee, meet up).
- Team devotional. This can be just one thought, 3 sentences or so, like the band’s final-seconds meeting before church on Sunday mornings.
- Gifts that communicate and/or deepen faith (selected books, websites, resources, etc).
I realize these may seem trite, but it truly is the little things—and the fact that we plan for them to actually happen—that matter.