Global Leadership Network UK & Ireland

GLN UK & Ireland

The Seven Myths of Volunteerism Part 4 – Bill Hybels

Joining Hands imageMyth 4: Most Volunteers Want To Serve in One Role for a Lifetime.

Let me reveal a nasty little secret about pastors and paid staff. When a pastor or staff recruit a volunteer and train them and help them figure out their spiritual gifts and finally place them in a critical role in some ministry of the church, the paid staff are just hoping against hope that they have filled that ministry position from now until the Lord’s return.

Now, this is understandable, because in most churches, staff are working really hard and when volunteers start jumping from one ministry to the next, that requires staff time. But here’s the truth from the volunteer side: Very few volunteers hit the jackpot the very first time they serve somewhere. Most of the time, when a volunteer steps forward and starts to serve, they start to learn more about their gifts, more about their capacities, more about what they like and what they don’t like. And it’s not uncommon at all for about three to six months into a serving experience, for a volunteer to start self-assessing.

In some dysfunctional church environments, a pastor will stand up and say, “Let’s talk about commitment. Let’s talk about keeping your word. Let’s talk about loyalty.” And the volunteer is thinking, “I am committed, I’m loyal, I’m faithful. I might just be in the wrong role.” In healthy, high functioning churches, staff and volunteers stay in a consistent dialogue about how it’s going with the volunteer and whether the work still seems like a good fit.

If a volunteer has pounded one nail for 10 years, if he/she decides to explore another ministry, welcome the exploration. Invite them into it. They might decide to go back to what they were doing, or they might find a whole new lease on life and serve God with greater enthusiasm in the new role.

Bill Hybels

Adapted from Willow Magazine 2004