By Danny Franks
A soul-crushing weariness comes with helping living things grow. Creating space for life and growth in your church and ministry is exhausting work. However, when it comes to leading volunteers, I have this crazy theory that God does not call us to perpetual exhaustion. So how do you create a culture where people serving people is the norm? Here are three considerations.
- We must realize that the local church is an audience, not an army.
Our pews tend to be filled with audience dwellers or spectators, and in our dark moments of leadership, we may infer some things about them like they aren’t committed to our church or don’t want to serve others. While some of that may be true, I the truth is that the Church is God’s Plan A to reach the world. If the mobilized local church is God’s Plan A, then we must raise up battle ready warriors who serve selflessly.
When was the last time that we stopped to realize that every person who has called upon the name of Jesus has been given a gift to serve His kingdom? We must help our people discern how God has wired them.
- Believers should serve the church not because we need them to but because they need to.
I’ve never seen a church that didn’t have needs, but getting people to serve completely out of need is a short-term win and a long-term loss. You will never run out of needs as a church, and you will never run out of people who are willing to meet those needs. But are those people the right fit? And more importantly, is their willingness born out of the right heart?
We don’t serve because we’re guilted to. We serve because we get to. We serve because we have been given a gift and are commanded to use that gift to serve others. If all we do as leaders is train our church members to sign up for need after need after need, then we will burn them out.
- Service should emerge from passion.
I recognize that it’s not always possible for the things that we love to coincide with the things that we do, but neither do I think we should force square peg volunteers into round peg holes. You can’t manufacture passion, but you can manufacture burnout.
Three things should overlap when helping a volunteer determine where to serve: skill, passion, and need. When these things overlap, you find a volunteer who is a force to be reckoned with.