Serving in the local church. There, sometimes, can be no greater joy. I’m consistently amazed at how people who work full-time jobs, sometimes six days a week, spend their time that they could be relaxing and resting, serving their church.
Why is that? Why do people from all walks of life, who are sometimes exhausted from their day jobs, donate even more time and energy to their church?
I’ve heard countless stories of volunteers telling me that serving in production is the “highlight of their week” or that they “look forward all week to serving”. Why is that?
I believe there are at least 10 reasons why someone serves at your church and on your team.
1. To grow in their relationship with Christ.
When someone serves on your team, they are surrounded with other believers that can encourage and strengthen their walk with Christ. They are hearing and seeing the Gospel lived out. More than half of the Ten Commandments deal with Loving People, and there are countless passages that instruct us as believers to serve one another. So when we obey that, we can feel it spiritually. The Holy Spirit inside of you is doing the ‘happy dance’. Isn’t that amazing- that you can receive more out of serving, emotionally and spiritually, than those you are giving to?
2. It helps them discover their purpose and feel fulfilled.
When you serve and give up your time and energy for someone else, you get emotionally and spiritually recharged. It gives more meaning to your life as a servant of Christ. Your volunteers have the opportunity in your environments to literally find purpose and meaning. They find fulfillment in putting the needs of others above themselves.
3. To use their skills and talents for the Kingdom.
Each one of your volunteers have incredible skills, talents, and abilities. A lot of them are in day jobs that for one reason or another aren’t allowing them to use all the gifts they have. A good note here- as a Media Director, I would always take willing people onto the Media Production Team. They did not have to have any technical ability whatsoever. In fact, sometimes, that worked out better because our team could train them from the ground up. But I also tried to create opportunities on our team that allowed people to flourish in the skills and gifts that God gave them.
For instance, what if you had an older lady on your team that knew nothing about technology but could cook and ‘mother’ your team? What if you had a great administrator that might not be able to keep pace with executing a worship service, but could help you schedule and follow-up with volunteers? Your volunteers want to use their gifts and skills for the Kingdom, it’s your job to create opportunities for them to be used.
4. Out of obedience to Jesus.
Mark 9:35 – “And He sat down and called the twelve. And He said to them, “if anyone be first, he must be last of all and servant of all”
Jesus commands us to serve others. When your volunteers serve the local church through your team, they are being obedient to what Jesus has called them to.
5. To follow Jesus’ example.
Philippians 2:5-7 – “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
God sent His son to be the ultimate servant. When your volunteers serve, they are following the very example Jesus set for us- giving of yourself for other people.
6. To join the mission of the church.
People want to be a part of something big. There are thousands of causes and charities that people endorse and give time, money and energy to. What better mission is there to serve than the local church? If your volunteers know and believe the mission of your church, they will give of themselves toward seeing that mission accomplished.
7. Your vision is compelling.
Volunteers don’t respond to need as much as they respond to vision. When you cast a compelling vision, people follow. Think about the Braveheart speech – you know the one – “they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!”. Now think about your church announcement time where Sister Myrtle comes to the podium to beg for more volunteers in the 3rd grade Sunday School class. I know these are extreme examples, but you get the picture – lead your team through casting compelling vision.
My vision for our production team was that we were ‘creating experiences where people met Jesus and took their next step with Him’.
I would ask a group of potential volunteers that toured our Production Room, “Who in this group accepted Christ at one of our services? Who in this group has grown in their relationship with Christ by attending a worship service at our church?” – my response after every hand went up was, “That’s what we do in this room. Through God working in us, we create those experiences. We create experiences where life change happens. Where the God of the universe moves and changes hearts and lives.You don’t need to know anything about technology or production to serve on our team. Would you like to join us?”
Notice I didn’t say, “If you are a behind the scenes person, if you’re introverted and don’t like to talk to people, if you’re a nerd that doesn’t like to be seen by people, if you like to wake up at 5am on Sundays and spend 6 hours rehearsing and executing worship services… this is the team for you!” Cast compelling vision and people will follow you.
8. To find community in relationships with others.
People want to belong. They want to feel apart of a group. They long to be cared about, served, and loved. When you create an exciting culture, people want to be apart of it. They want meaningful relationships with people. They want genuine friendships that last. Although you can’t make people be friends, you can provide opportunities for friendships to happen. You can plan events as a team.
You can provide serving opportunities outside of production (get your members on of your team to serve the community or another ministry area in your church together). You can provide a Production Headquarters area with cards, board games, and food where people have an environment to hang out and get to know each other. If you’re not providing these opportunities for community to happen, don’t be surprised when your team members don’t know each other.
9. There is joy in Loving People and giving back.
Jesus is Love. When we love others through serving and giving back, it is natural for us to feel a ‘spiritual tingle’ – you’re being Jesus to others! We feel joy when we give. That’s why the giver feels more blessed than the receiver most of the time. Don’t rob your volunteers of the joy of serving. Create more roles and more opportunities on your team for people – you’re literally giving them the gift of joy.
10. Serving can be fun.
Do your volunteers have fun when they serve? I have so much fun when I serve in a production of some kind – I’ve been involved in theatre productions, directing TV and Radio programs, producing live events, you name it, and most of the time its a blast! Sure, there are stressful points, they are some events I like more than others, there are positions or tasks I like more than others, but serving with a team to produce a show or event can be a whole lot of fun. Are you having fun?
As the leader of your ministry, you are setting the tone. If it’s fun for you, people see that and feed off of that. Create an environment where it’s fun to serve!
When creating your volunteer culture, it’s good to know why your volunteers are there in order to know how to minister to them.
Think about each of these reasons and evaluate your team. Are you providing opportunities in each of these areas?
The more time you spend creating systems and opportunities in the areas I’ve mentioned, the more your volunteer team will thrive. Your team members want to be involved in something that matters. What we do in ministry matters for eternity!
Let me know what you think.