One of the biggest questions I get asked by other church’s with regard to our Kids Ministry is: How do you recruit your volunteers? What is your volunteer strategy? THAT is a loaded question!! But the simple answer is… We don’t recruit volunteers! Instead we make BIG ASKS of God’s people!
What’s the difference? Let’s start by defining what a volunteer is… based on Websters definition:
VOLUNTEER – A person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.
So whats wrong with that? Isn’t that what we want? For people to do use their gifts in the church, freely offering to help where help is needed? Yes, of course! Many churches and other not for profit organizations work hard at developing a strong volunteer base and rely on those incredible people who give freely of their time to keep the organization going! They spend hours coming up with a strategy for how to recuit, train, and retain their volunteers!
Now by contrast, let’s look at the definition of a servant:
SERVANT: one that serves others ; especially: one that performs duties about the person or home of a master or personal employer
I love that! A servant is one that serves others in the home of his/her master. It denotes a posture of humility. Jesus gave us the greatest example of what it means to be a truly humble servant:
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8)
Now this question: is having a “volunteer strategy” even Biblical? Let’s let Jesus answer:
“…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45).
Let’s compare and contrast:
~ A volunteer gives his/her time… a servant gives his/her life
~ A volunteer is willing… a servant is obedient
~ A volunteer position is temporary… servanthood is a lifestyle
~ A Volunteer can “quit”… a servant can’t quit, but can be released
~ Volunteering is optional… servanthood is expected
Do you see the difference? So what is our role as ministry leaders in the church? What posture do we take? We have to TRUST!
~ We have to trust that God is working and moving in the hearts of the people in our church!
~ We have to trust that God knows exactly who he wants to rock the babies, park the cars, and greet the guests
~ We need to be diligent in creating environments and opportunities for servants to move into
~ We need to provide a clear “on ramps” for people to connect in service through out the year as God prompts
~ We need to understand that they may be coming to “volunteer”, but we model for them what it means to serve.
~ We have to BELIEVE with everything in us that when people serve, they grow, and when they grow, they continue to serve.
~ As people grow, we need to let them go… trusting that God will bring who is to come next.
~ We need to take the posture of servant ourselves…equipping and empowering and giving away ministry to the servants, not asking them to help us with ours
~ We can make BIG ASKS of God’s people, being confident that their answer, whether yes, or no, will grow and challenge and spur them on, as well as build faith in us.
I could go on and on…but if we do these things, and know these things, and create these things, and believe these things…slowly but surely, we will create a culture of servant leaders, rather than volunteers who come to help for awhile.
During His ministry, Jesus didn’t recruit volunteers; He called people to be servants.