God designed the Church to run on volunteer power. Every member of the congregation is a spiritually gifted individual, after all, called and empowered to do “the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12, ESV). And yet, many churches experience a chronic shortage of volunteers.
What is the cause of this shortage, and what can pastors and other church leaders do about it?
Those are the questions Influence magazine I talk about with Jill Fox in Episode 153 of the Influence Podcast. Fox is ministry initiatives and next gen pastor at Westwood Community Church in Excelsior, Minnesota, and co-author, with Leith Anderson, of two books: The Volunteer Church and Volunteering, both published by Zondervan. (See my review here.)
Leith Anderson and Jill Fox, The Volunteer Church: Mobilizing Your Congregation for Growth and Effectiveness (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015). Paperback | Kindle
_____, Volunteering: A Guide to Serving in the Body of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015). Paperback | Kindle
“At their core churches are volunteer organizations,” write Leith Anderson and Jill Fox. The issue, then, is not whether a church has ministry volunteers but how well it mobilizes volunteers for ministry. The Volunteer Church offers guidance that will help church leaders:
effectively recruit and train volunteers;
build sustainable, long-lasting ministries led by volunteers;
encourage and maintain volunteers;
build volunteer teams;
and find the right ministry fit for volunteers.
Anderson and Fox were colleagues at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota—he as pastor, she as director of the Volunteer Development Ministry. In addition to being biblically sound, the advice they offer in this book is undergirded by pastoral experience.
If you are a pastor or church leader looking for help improving your volunteer ministry, this short book is a good place to start. The book’s two appendixes—“Volunteer Development Training” and “Your Plan for Volunteer Development”—are especially helpful. They provide bullet points and discussion questions leaders can use to plan an effective volunteer development program.
Anderson and Fox’s Volunteering is a companion to The Volunteer Church, written primarily to address the questions volunteers have about signing up for ministry in the local church. Chapter 2, “Finding Your Fit,” is especially useful. It helps potential volunteers assess their spiritual gifts and talents and skills to more closely align who they are with what they do.