I understand the question, it is difficult to find people who want to work hard at any job these days, let alone a volunteer position. At LifePoint our people have always risen to the occasion and have gone above and beyond in everything we have done for the last 2 years. I’m not sure of all the secrets for this success but we have found these 4 to be key.
1. Mission and Vision
For a church it all starts and stops with Jesus, but the mission and vision are close behind.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish...”
One reason our people serve so passionately is because everything we do is somehow tied to our mission and vision. The why behind the what is clear. Our Egg-stravaganza exists for a specific purpose, to share the love of Jesus with the people of Lebanon, MO. We do that by collecting candy, stuffing eggs, giving away prizes, and inviting people to attend church on Easter Sunday. It is simply stated and easy to implement. We had volunteers, some who don’t even attend our church from 3 to 89 years old who all assisted with the day. It serves as a point of excitement for our church family. As much fun as the people who came had there is no way any of them enjoyed it as much as we did in putting on the event. The side effect of pursuing our mission this way is that generosity, a core value of our church, is encouraged and displayed for all to see.
2. Servant Leadership
It is very difficult for anyone to want to work for or serve a leader who doesn’t carry their weight. Too many leaders feel that because they did the hard work of planning or dreaming of the event that they probably don’t have to do any of the hard work during or after the event either. At LifePoint servanthood is a requirement for any level of leadership. Board members, LifeGroup leaders, volunteer and paid staff, and yes even the pastor all chip in and help every step of the way. I have made the commitment to my people that I will never ask anyone to do something that I either haven’t done before or at least wouldn’t be willing to do. That doesn’t mean I do everything in the church and in doing so, fail in my call to equip God’s people for works of service. Many pastors do just that and not only deprive their members of the chance to grow through service, but they burn themselves and their families out in the process.
Instead we try to model Jesus in Mark 10:
43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.
- Mark 10:43-44 (NLT)
I used to work concrete with my in laws. Finishing concrete is a tough job, but when I would get tired I would see my father in law and brother in law working their hardest and it would inspire me to keep hard at it too. When leaders lead through serving, everyone knows that we are all in this together. All in buy in is modeled best when leaders are the first to jump in with a shovel in hand.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
People want to be a part of something excellent. When we do everything we do with a spirit of excellence it not only brings the best out in everyone, it attracts others to be a part and compels them to up their game as well. The trick is to make excellence attainable for people, something I will post on later this week.
Time is a precious commodity and when someone gives their time in service, it is no small thing. People need to be recognized when they do a great job. Proverbs 3:27 gives this instruction, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” Recognition provides affirmation, encouragement, and support all in one shot. Appreciation does need to be given and celebrated from the pulpit and hand written notes are great too, but a personal message to your group through a blog or a post is a tremendously effective tool as well. My first attempt (which you can read here) at this immediately became the second most read post in my blog's short history and the vast majority of the traffic came from our town. I am proud of our people and what they were able to accomplish for the Kingdom and for our community and I wanted to let them know. However you choose to express this, the key is to let your people know you appreciate them and what they do for the ministry.
If you think about it these 4 keys probably played a part in your own volunteerism at some point in your life as well. It is likely they still do. So far these have proven to be a key part of our recipe for success. I would love to hear your thoughts and any additions you might like to share as well.