How to be an Impactful and Effective Volunteer

One thing that no church is lacking for in the need category is volunteers. It doesn’t matter how big or how small the congregation… there is always a need.

I have heard it said that in 100% of churches 20% of the congregation does 80% of the work. How does that math work out?

Honestly, there are so many things within the church that are almost entirely dependent on volunteers and so often many of those things go unnoticed by those who aren’t made aware of the task.

Imagine a Sunday without volunteers. It would be a train wreck, and many of us would probably be quick to be negative or complain… well, to be honest, we have no room to talk if we aren’t part of the solution. Complaints go nowhere in fixing the problem at hand.

Where are all the volunteers?

Think about it… who runs the sound that we all tend to enjoy while the band is playing or the pastor is speaking on Sunday morning? It sure would be interesting without it. What about the camera for the churches that broadcast or live stream? Most of us would agree that first impressions are vital when it comes to welcoming newcomers… well, who welcomes guests and passes out bulletins to people as they enter your church? Who watches your kids? Who teaches your classes?

The list could really go on and on… but I think you are getting the point.

At New Hope Community Church (where I serve) we have the hardest time recruiting dedicated media volunteers to run the computer that projects our lyrics on Sunday mornings. But… interestingly enough I get more complaints about words being messed up, delayed, or jumbled from people than anything else.

So… you may be reading this and asking yourself, “where do we go from here?” To that I would like to answer with a challenge: Serve your congregation out of worship to God.

Don’t become involved merely just to build an organization or program, or because you think you are expected to. Become involved out of a desire to influence, change, and help your friends, family, and neighbors.

Ministry is important… and you don’t have to be a “minister” to do it.

1 Corinthians 12:12-25 says,

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

You see, the church functions as a body. Each part, no matter how small, is equally valuable to the health of the whole body. Each part performs different duties in relationship to its contribution to the body. God has equipped each individual differently, with different spiritual gifts, backgrounds, talents, personalities, and abilities… but all have an important role to play.

There are a few ways to get off on the right foot as far as your volunteering goes. Below I will outline a few ways to be an impactful and effective volunteer because a person without a strategy often stumbles and struggles.

  • Dedicate your time.

This may seem obvious… but service takes time. Nothing is more irritating to an organizer than volunteers who are consistently late to their commitments. As a Worship Pastor it definitely makes my job more stressful when I don’t have my media team or sound engineers on time to rehearsals or services. As volunteers we should aim to take the stress and workload off of those around us. Weight is more easily distributed among several different carriers than if it is placed all on one.

Be a servant and carry some weight!

  • Practice your responsibilities.

Everyone expects the music and preaching to be polished and ready to go on Sundays and that requirement carries over to volunteers as well.

Believe it or not… your service is your worship and should be done with excellence.

As volunteers we should be “well-rehearsed” in the same way a musician would be before stepping in front of people. There are several things we can do to become better in our volunteer services…

If we are greeters we can dedicate time to learning the names and faces of those within our congregation so that we can more easily connect and assist when we see them. This also makes it easier to visibly find guests and make them feel welcomed with a personalized greeting.

If we are serving with children or in Sunday School classes or groups we can look over our material and prepare our rooms, areas, or spaces before hand. We can also find material to read and invest our time in to make us better in our service.

If we are musicians, media teamers, or sound engineers we can practice our craft alone so that we are ready to go on a Sunday. Time invested into service beforehand will always make things run smoother when the time comes to perform our duties in front of others. This can also mean getting familiar with the songs and communicating beforehand so everyone is one the same page on Sunday (as far as lights, sound, and projected lyrics go).

  • Develop a proper attitude of service.

A major attribute in becoming a successful worker or volunteer is developing an attitude of willingness and sacrifice. Many times it is easier to believe in something and aggressively pursue it as long as it doesn’t cost us anything…. but the most effective workers are those who willingly sacrifice for the good of the body.

We hear of the sacrifices of following Jesus in Luke 9:57-62,

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

I find it hard to believe that in light of this passage many of us don’t have it in us to sacrifice a single service a month to serving in some aspect within our churches.

Work to develop an attitude of service. At first it might not be easy… but I promise that the more you serve to glorify the Father the easier it will become.

  • Commit yourself to being flexible and reliable.

Want to make it easier on those around you or those “in charge?” Well you are in luck! Reliability is an organizers best friend.

Let me ask you a question… how long would we stay employed if we were late every other day and sometimes just didn’t show up to work at all without notice. Probably not very long. What about if we came in every following day with a sob story or excuse? It wouldn’t matter.

If we can dedicate ourselves to working reliably in the world and for the world why is it like pulling teeth getting reliable and diligent workers to work in the church for God?

How many of us would drop everything instantly if our boss called us in for a special favor? I would say many of us would because of the possibility of rewards that could come along with that sacrifice of time or plans. Well… what about the rewards that Christ promises?

Be flexible and reliable!

Tardiness, last minute cancellations, and “no shows” ARE a hindrance to your “ministers” spiritual preparation and focus. This carries us into our last point…

  • Communicate.

Just like in every other aspect of life… communication is key! As ministerial staff we understand that life gets busy and hard at times… we aren’t exempt to that. But with a little help and communication we can make or churches and ministries more efficient and effective. Be willing to communicate in times good and bad. It is never too late to ask for help or to learn something new… all you have to do is ask.

Volunteering is WAY underrated and under-appreciated. Remember who and why you are serving and know that you are valued even when it seems otherwise.

Be a volunteer that is impactful and effective.

Colossians 3:22-24 says,

Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

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