Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Keep the Bar High and the Begging Low

You are not doing anyone a favor by expecting too little from your volunteers.

I am sitting in my office on a Monday, and I am flooded with calls and e-mails from people in my congregation begging to be leaders in our children's Sunday school ministry. Sadly, I tell them the positions have been filled for months, but I can put them on a waiting list for the next year. I mention I do have an opening two years out, and if they would like to go online and complete the application, they may do so. They are disappointed about this year but are excited about the possibilities of being a leader in two years. I hang up the phone, turn off my computer, and think to myself, "If only I had enough volunteer positions for every qualified person. It is so difficult to place the chairperson of the religion department at the local university on a waiting list. I just had to. The leadership for fifth grade has been filled for over a year." Then I hear a loud tone and realize my alarm just went off, and I wake up. It was just a dream.

We have all had this dream in one form or another. We have this idea that everyone who feels called to children's ministry knows their calling and acts on it. We tend to think making announcements in church where we beg people to serve or placing a blurb in the Sunday morning bulletin are enough to motivate people to volunteer for positions they know very little about. Save your energy and your paper. Recruiting volunteers is not like searching for a needle in a haystack (which it sometimes feels like). It is about helping people discover their gifts and equipping them to serve. It is actually my second favorite part of my job. I love helping people find their place to serve and then equipping them for the service. The word equipping was new to me until I read the book The Equipping Church by Sue Mallory (Zondervan, 2001). It helped me redefine recruiting and training as helping people find their gifts, then training them to use those gifts. To read more, click here.

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