For a period of seven years, I was extremely proud to be a firefighter at our local volunteer fire department. Most people are aware of the incredible risks, hazards, and life threatening circumstances firefighters face every day. Yet, we had 60 men actively serving along with a lengthy waiting list. We had more volunteers than we needed. Keep in mind — this is volunteer – no one, including our chief, was getting paid. We gave many hours each week running calls but also just as many in training. After analyzing the success of this volunteer organization I saw four principles that apply in our church ministries as well. I will be touching on one of each of these over the next few weeks. They are…
- Volunteers will consider helping if the need is made known.
- Volunteers are motivated when the vision is clear and impactful.
- Volunteers are encouraged if training is provided.
- Volunteers stick around if their service is appreciated.
One of the greatest mistakes that can be made in ministry is expecting yourself to handle and accomplish each and every responsibility that comes you way. This may work for a time but will ultimately lead down the path toward burnout. Burnout serves no one and negatively impacts your calling. Realizing the need for support is one thing…finding and acquiring that support is another.
Before I begin, it’s important to address a falsehood about recruiting. For many, the task of recruiting can be intimidating. No one wants to be “that guy” who begs and pleads for help. It’s easy to feel like you’re encroaching upon people’s lives or that they’ll think you’re not doing your job. The truth is that this falsehood will rob people of important ministry moments and service opportunities for the church. We take away a great opportunity for learning, growth, and connectedness to a fellowship.
If you missed Part 1: Making the Need Known, you can find it here.
This week I will be addressing the principle: Volunteers are motivated when the vision is clear and impactful.
At the fire department we were required to take the hoses back off the truck, cleaned and inspected any time they were used…even on the most incidental fire situation. Many times they didn’t seem dirty enough to bother and we knew they were in perfect working order. Still – it was part of the process and procedures that kept the hoses free from debris, corrosion or problems. Hoses are the primary tool for bringing water to the fire. There can be absolutely no issues with hoses in an emergency situation. A laborious task yes, but one with great impact to the community it serves.
Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish…”
Part of leadership is the ability to not only communicate a vision but to motivate the people to own it for themselves. Most people long to be a part of things that are impactful and greater than themselves. Making a positive difference and contributing to a cause – especially in the local church – is at the heart of what Christ calls us to as well…love expressed through service and sacrifice.
Share how each task contributes to the life of a ministry and bigger picture of the church – don’t assume they understand how it all fits together. Your worship volunteers need to know at all times that their efforts and skills are helping to accomplish great things for God’s Kingdom – even if it’s simply putting the music back into the music library. And let’s be honest – every job has tasks that seem mundane and laborious. This is even more reason to emphasize the big picture and impact.
Share the “big picture”
- Share the “why” behind the responsibilities needing to be done.
- Show what the end result should look like.
- Share how this will impact the worship ministry
Share the “small picture”
- Make sure there is a daily task list
- Have more work available than they can accomplish
- Never should a volunteer have nothing to do
Next up, we’ll talk about the importance of training. Stay tuned.
Dale Bleam is LifeWay Worship’s Sales Supervisor & Strategist. Or as he says, “Supervisor of the best sales team I’ve ever had the privilege of working with.” With 20+ years in church music sales… he would know! In addition, his other titles include: Dad, Bi-vocational Worship Pastor, Songwriter, Teacher, Volunteer Firefighter, XBOX Champion and Weightlifter. And here’s a fun fact, he listens to his music LOUD. He keeps our hallways filled with joyful sounds. If LifeWay Worship was a radio station, he’d be our DJ.