Memories of Empowering Volunteers

As I am beginning the process of shifting major ministry responsibilities to volunteers, I am finding my conversations quite familiar. I have said and done these things before. These are some of the things I learned when, as the Children’s Ministry Pastor, I was told at my hiring that I was not to do the ministry but to equip the laity to do the ministry. Claim the promise that He who called you is faithful and He will do it. Ask God to send you who He needs to do His work His way and then watch with expectancy. Remind yourself that when you recruit a volunteer you are giving them a gift.

I have never talked with anyone on his or her deathbed that regretted teaching Sunday School. In heaven, if we meet on such a basis, those you have entrusted with ministry will thank you. Make sure the assignment is big enough. It needs to be significant and just a little more than comfortable so the volunteer will experience God doing it through them. Let the volunteer know that if they succeed they will get the credit, and if they fail you will take the blame. Leaders absorb pain they do not cause pain. Remember that when you delegate you give up control. If the volunteer is working within the core ministry values let the streams flow. Have a time of formal commissioning so they are clear that this is a call from God. Do an anointing with oil and send them out with prayer. If the energy of the volunteer begins to sag, the best response is to gather them for a time of worship. I could get anyone to start teaching Sunday School but I couldn’t keep anyone teaching for any length of time. When we gathered for worship, the Holy Spirit confirmed the call and the volunteer was unstoppable.

My role, as the pastor, is to serve the volunteer. To do what I can to make it a good experience for them, to recognize God’s transforming work as they serve and to provide for their practical needs, such as access to copy machines in the evening, etc. This is servant leadership and it is very exciting. I still have people come up to me and say, “Remember when…”

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