Global Leadership Network UK & Ireland

GLN UK & Ireland

The Seven Myths of Volunteerism Part 2 – Bill Hybels

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Myth 2: Volunteers Are Only Capable of Doing the Busy Work of the Church

By this I refer to the myth that volunteers are only capable of doing repetitive tasks that the paid staff doesn’t really want to mess with. That they’re only capable of doing the tasks that are low in strategic import. At Willow, the decision-making positions with the greatest strategic import are often done almost exclusively by volunteers. To think that volunteers can only do busy work isn’t true theologically, it doesn’t agree with the experiences of the New Testament church, and it certainly doesn’t agree with the experiences of our church.

Our elders, for instance, are responsible for the overall spiritual oversight of our church. They hire and fire the senior pastor, they exert church discipline and doctrinal evaluation and they’re all volunteers. Our board of directors move around tens of millions of dollars. They’re involved with construction, legal matters, etc. They’re all volunteers. The Willow Creek Association Board — all volunteers. Our extension ministry board, our international board, our human resource board, our IT board is almost exclusively volunteers.

In every church, there are high capacity volunteers, there are medium capacity volunteers, and then there are lower capacity volunteers. (When I say lower capacity, I’m not talking about someone’s IQ or social skills. I am just talking about giftedness, availability, life experience, stage of life, and commitment to Christ). Some people in your church will only step up and get involved if you offer them a high capacity volunteer opportunity. We have to make sure that our churches have a wide portfolio of high capacity volunteer positions, mid-capacity volunteer positions, and lower capacity volunteer positions, and then we’ve got to match the people with the positions.

Bill Hybels

Adapted from Willow Magazine 2004