About four years ago my wife and I moved from Arkansas to start churches in the Northwest part of the country to a place called Spokane, Washington. We really didn’t know anyone. We wanted to make a huge impact just like a lot of people want to do. There was one BIG issue. We were church planters who didn’t have a huge budget and we were about to do this multisite church in different cities with some friends we just met. We couldn’t pay people to help us create an environment or even pay people to lead other people. The good thing is that my wife and I have some great friends that we are on this journey with. My friend, Stephen Ward, has helped me see the importance of knowing how to strategically do things. I did a lot of things before, but this was different. He taught me how to multiply things. This was much different. It included a lot of volunteers and discipleship. One thing every church and organization needs is more leaders and volunteers. We can sit back and always dream of doing certain things or we can do something about the lack of volunteers.
Let’s take a step back first and look at the Bible. Let’s look at the Bible because it’s important to know that what we believe the Bible teaches about volunteers BECAUSE that determines what we do. When it comes to serving I thought it was what paid people did in the church plus the few that served with them that I really thought didn’t have a life. I realized if we are going to make a difference it has to get out of the realm of paid staff. The reality was that we had no paid staff! I had to learn some things. Here are a few key verses that helped me understand this idea of serving and having volunteers help in huge ways.
“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”Romans 12:2 CSB
“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 CSB
“But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22 CSB
These verses were are very good to help us create this multisite church to make a huge impact.
Teaching our people to be doers and not just hearers.
Teaching people that Jesus was our greatest example of someone thinking outside of Himself and serving people no matter what.
Teaching our people to let God transform their mind to live up to their God given potential.
Getting volunteers for us started with getting to know someone relationally or them showing up to a church event. From there, we would follow up with them and then invite them to a Sunday gathering. Then we would follow up with them again and ask them to attend a small group with us. Then we would ask them to serve with us either at a church event or at one of our Sunday services. Here is what that looks like:
This sounds easy but it not as easy as it sounds. The reality is that maybe you have tried something like this. It can be hard. Some of the difficulties in getting people to use their God given potential is that it’s getting them out of their comfort zone. We found out we just don’t need people to serve. We need people to multiply. We need more multipliers. For us to be real multipliers we must teach and encourage people to think outside of their realm and thinking about others. We need to give people tools that they can follow and understand.
Creating a system that you can communicate can be very easy with a few adjustments. Most of the time having graphics to communicate the system is key. One thing that we have in place is a shape called the leadership square. Here is what it looks like:
Going on from there, the goal isn’t what you think. We all need volunteers to make a huge impact. We all need more help. We all know the doer. You know, the person that gets everything done. The one that can get anything done anytime. Those people are nice! Yes, we all need doers but we need more than that. You need people who aren’t necessarily doers but gathers. You need people who can gather people so that you can get them trained, sent out to go and do the same. Train your people to always seek their one. Their one person they are gaining. Teach your volunteers to never serve alone. Have them gather more people who could do their job and send them out. This is multiplication. That’s the key. We need people who can do something and then work themselves out of a job and then do it again. Never forget to give your great volunteers an example to follow and really care about the volunteers you have!
Here are 7 Practical steps to get more volunteers.
- Figure out what’s important to what you are doing.
- Create simple, single page job descriptions to what you want done. Lead a few people to help you come up with this. This allows them into the creating process.
- Create opportunities. Have an event for the purpose of people serving not solely just to get new people.
- Evaluate for the win. When all is said and done what do you want to accomplish?
- Ask the people serving how you can help them continue to make a difference.
- Volunteers are going to be the reason why you are make a huge impact in your community. God can use anyone but the reality is that you will have way more volunteers instead of paid staff.
- Don’t give up. Keep going. This is a process.