In the midst of a busy end-of-program-year season, Amanda and I were able to take a few hours a month ago to attend the Twin Cities Faith Formation Network in Lakeville with children, youth, and family workers and volunteers. The topic for the day was all about engaging volunteers in the congregation, not just in youth ministry. The first speaker, Nancy Thompson, spoke about how important it is to recruit and develop volunteers and leaders, not just to start and develop programs. She noted in particular how important it is to build and grow relationship, both with other people and with God. In her talk, she spoke about how important it is to find the right fit for volunteers to help them succeed. In her way of thinking there are four levels for people to volunteer at, and she also highlighted the importance of each one.
Serving = this is an entry level volunteer position; easy, not long term, low investment. Examples: greeters, supply room coordinator, room coordinators, service project supply person, anything that can be done on own time.
Shepherding = a position that involves giving care to others, more involvement than serving level, the next step in investing in community. Examples: nursery caregivers, large group hosts (think bereavement representatives at a funeral), technology helpers.
Teaching = higher level of commitment, more preparation ahead of time, direct engagement with groups of people. Examples: small group leaders, Sunday School/Oasis teachers, leading a women’s or men’s group.
Leading = those who advocate for programs, chair events, high capacity volunteers. Examples: congregational council, chair of commission, transition team, all members of commissions.
As the speaker finished up I began to realize just how important it is to help everyone find the right level for investment in our community. In 1 Corinthians 12:4 Paul reminds us that there are different kinds of gifts, but one Spirit who distributes them. We all have different gifts that can be used to the glory of God. I have been working on changing my thinking so that I notice in a different way. Where do you notice gifts that you could use? Or maybe gifts in another? How can we help each other grow those gifts? How can we empower, equip, and encourage one another? Rather than trying to fill the voids that we have in programming, what if instead we worked from a place of abundance? What are you abundant in? How might you share that gift to the glory of God? God has given us all amazing, but different gifts! Let’s figure out how to use them together!