Every February at Christ Church we hold a conference called “Navigating Change.” Our best attended break-out sessions always involve “finding volunteers” in some way, shape or form. All churches of all sizes are always looking for more volunteers and are hungry to learn how to find them! Surely we need “laborers for the harvest” but we need to stop thinking “volunteer.” Volunteers are low commitment, unreliable and fair weathered. If I am volunteering to work in the school concession stand, I won’t need much of an excuse to opt out after a hard day at work. After all, I am “only a volunteer.” It occurs to me there are no volunteers in the Bible. There are only ministers called by God. Biblical ministers are people “bound” to ministry by Christ and very few quit their day jobs (including Paul). If God called you, only God can release you. People in ministry are high commitment, self sacrificing and relentless. They understand that God gave His best to them in Jesus Christ and they offer their very best to God’s service.
Here are seven ideas to help move your church from a Volunteer Culture to a Minister Culture”
- Ask people if they feel called by God to the ministry in which they participate.
- Ask people if they are ready to give of their very best to that calling.
- Formally commission people to ministry by having them come forward in church and lay hands upon them.
- Don’t just sign people up for ministry but constantly equip, deploy and encourage those God has called.
- Use “minister” rather than “volunteer” when recruiting. To quote my grandson Elijah, Volunteer “is a bad word.”
- Prepare leaders for both the difficulties and rewards of leadership and ministry.
- Celebrate the ministries of your bi-vocational ministers in every way possible, by every means possible.
We were commissioned by Jesus Christ to take the Gospel to the world. This is far too difficult a task for volunteers! We need bi-vocational ministers!