The Church Needs Volunteers.
Volunteerism is an essential component to fulfilling the mission of the church.
Unfortunately, too often we volunteer without considering our gifting and calling. Soon our good intentions turn to feelings of obligation, then lack of fulfilment sets in, which always causes problems.
I’ve been reading through Carey Nieuwhof’s book, Lasting Impact. As I’ve looked through Conversation 4, “What Keeps High-Capacity Leaders From Engaging Our Mission“, I’ve been challenged to look closer at volunteerism.
Here’s a few questions I’ve had to ask, stemming from Carey’s principles.
1. Is Our Vision, Mission, and Strategy Fuzzy?
- Lasting Impact, Ch. 4, “Reasons High-Capacity People Leave Your Team” principle 2: “Our Vision, Mission, and Strategy Are Fuzzy”.
Strategy strikes me the most. So many churches have a vision or mission slapped up on a fall somewhere. Although, as Carey point out, very view attenders actually know what it is. It’s all about strategy. The strategy has to be compelling as well as the vision and mission.
Timothy Understood the Vision, Mission, & Strategy
In Acts 16, we find a young man named Timothy, who clearly understood the vision, mission, and strategy that Paul had set out to accomplish.
“Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him…” (Acts 16:1-3a)
Timothy’s mother was a Believer and he was recognised as a disciple, but more than that. Clearly from the report that Paul had received from local leadership, Timothy had embraced the vision and mission. But what about strategy?
Remember John Mark’s Chance
“37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them…39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other.” (Acts 15:37-39a)
Paul and Barnabas planned for this to be a leadership-training journey, visiting established churches to strengthen them. Barnabas wanted to bring John Mark, but Paul stood firm in not bringing him, to the point of ending their partnership for a time.
Paul was never fuzzy on the vision, mission, nor his strategy for any and every missionary journey. His rejection of John Mark proves that his plans often held specific intentions. If John Mark didn’t make the cut, there was good reason.
All of a sudden, the Lord brings Timothy into the picture. I am certain that Paul explained the details of this journey. And this was a strategy that match the vision and mission that he had already bought into.
2. Is the Challenge Big Enough?
- Lasting Impact, Ch. 4, “Reasons High-Capacity People Leave Your Team” principle 1: “The Challenge Isn’t Big Enough”.
There’s often a tendency to hold responsibility too close. Carey references this concept. People want meaningful responsibility, not random tasks or busy-work.
I believe this is crucial in churches today. There’s far too much apprehension when handing off leadership opportunities to Millennials. When in fact, the more we offer the Millennial generation, the more they’ll rise to the challenge!
Timothy Accepted a Big Challenge
Getting back to Acts 16, we see a great example of Paul giving Timothy the challenge of a lifetime.
“…and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.” (Acts 16:3b-5)
Just think about it. Timothy had a good life. He was well-known and appreciated in his community. And yet, this young man was willing to get circumcised and leave his parents, in order to accept the challenge Paul was offering.
Remember Paul’s Example
We have the benefit of knowing the end of the story. We know that 1 and 2 Timothy have become two of the greatest leadership texts in the Bible.
A few years Paul finds himself in prison, handing the mission over to Timothy: “11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth…” (1 Timothy 4:11-12a)
Paul’s investment in Timothy can teach us so much about mentorship, and trusting the next generation with responsibility and meaningful challenge. Something about this leadership-training journey was worth accepting.
What started as giving a young man a big challenge, led to the youngest leader of leaders!
I want to make sure I give credit where credit’s due. Over the past month, much of my content has sprung from thoughts that Carey Nieuwhof’s has introduced, in his book Lasting Impact. If you’re in ministry full-time or as a volunteer, order it today!
Join the Conversation, Leave Your Thoughts
What’s the volunteer culture look like in your church? What are you doing to attract high-capacity people?