Pastor and Christian Leadership Resources

The Benefit Your Church Needs That Changes Everything

  • Jill Fox
  • Updated Apr 28, 2016
 The Benefit Your Church Needs That Changes Everything

Answer these five questions honestly:

  • Is your church growing?
  • Does it have the ability to sustain through transitions?
  • Does your church produce new ideas for ministry?
  • Do you have committed members?
  • Are people growing in your church?

So…how did you do? All yeses, all nos or a little of both? Well, if you want to ace this test with all yeses (and let’s hope you want to ace this test) then let me give you a little clue on how to accomplish it. Volunteers. Yes, you read that correctly…volunteers.

Often times volunteers offer more benefits to a church than leaders or pastors even realize. Let’s take the five questions I asked you about and let me help you to see how you can answer yes to each of them with the help of your volunteers.

1. Is your church growing?

Churches that have the ability to grow are resourced with volunteers. Churches grow when they unleash their own people to do ministry. It’s as simple as multiplication. The more volunteers you have, the more ministry can be done. Want to start a new ministry to single moms? It will take volunteers.  Want to expand your children’s ministry? It will take volunteers.  Want to start a new service?  It will take volunteers. The reality here is that if your church wants to grow in new ways it will take volunteers to do it…it’s how you grow.

2. Does your church have the ability to sustain through transitions?

Do you as a leader in your church or pastor of the church get nauseous thinking about transitions like a staff member leaving? Are you the kind of church where the staff does everything? If so, it makes sense why you would feel nervous. Volunteers are incredible; they can be the best glue you could ever ask for! As I transitioned out of a role in my church in the area of student ministries, I will admit that I wanted to be missed. However, I couldn’t’help but smile as ministry trucked right along because of volunteers. Volunteers keep ministry moving. They can create an amazing amount of consistency. When a church faces transitions, they help stabilize. 

3. Does your church produce new ideas for ministry?

I served with a man on staff at a church that always said, “I’ve never seen an idea that couldn’t be made better with a team.” He was right. Teams of volunteers can create remarkable ideas for new ministries or enhance current ministries. 

I will never forget talking with a young man that came up with idea of reaching the young adult community through a broomball tournament. As he enthusiastically shared I thought, “Why didn’t I think of this?!” His idea not only worked, but brought over 200 young adults to the church each weekend to play and rub shoulders with other Christians. It all came about because volunteers had been asked to share their ideas. Looking for new ideas? Try using the brainpower of your volunteers. They’ve never disappointed me!

4. Do you have committed members?

Recently I talked to a couple who had decided to put their house on the market. They had rented their house out for years and knew that they would need to make a few updates before selling. They were not prepared for what they encountered on their first afternoon. Dirty walls, chipped paint and grimy bathrooms made them heartsick. It was the difference between being a renter and being an owner. Renters are often only in a place for a while and don’t have a deep investment whereas owners are committed; they are invested.

Members of a church that volunteer are like owners. They “own” the ministry. They are deeply committed.  Churches that are comprised of volunteers with a renter mindset often struggle. The people come and go and ultimately aren’t invested. If you want members that are committed through good and bad times at your church, get them involved. Move them from a renter mindset to that of an owner. Ask them to volunteer.

5. Are people growing in your church? 

If you asked me what was the number one benefit to engaging volunteers in your church, this would be it -  seeing people in your church grow. Andrew was one of those volunteers. He stood there as tears fell down his face. He slowly got the words out. “I just never imagined that sharing with someone about Jesus Christ and getting to pray with them to surrender their life to him would be this amazing.” Andrew was in high school and it was through volunteering at summer camp with middle schoolers that he would experience his faith growing in leaps and bounds. Knowing and understanding the character of Jesus Christ is so important, but when we actually put all that we know into action, what God does in our lives and other’s lives is breathtaking. I’m convinced that there is nothing more beautiful than seeing others grow through volunteering.

If you want to be able to answer yes to these five questions then start empowering your people through volunteering. The benefits for the church are amazing and after all, it’s teaching them to be like the ultimate volunteer, Jesus. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

When Jill Fox designed and led the Volunteer Development Ministry at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, a vital and vibrant volunteer program with 3,000+ participants grew under her leadership. Leith Anderson, current president of the National Association of Evangelicals, served as pastor of Wooddale Church at the time. Based on their experience, Fox and Anderson have compiled new resources to help other churches develop thriving volunteer ministries—The Volunteer Church: Mobilizing Your Congregation for Growth and Effectiveness (for leaders) and Volunteering: A Guide to Serving in the Body of Christ (for volunteers), both from Zondervan. Fox graduated from Bethel University and Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, with an MA in transformational leadership.

Publication date: April 5, 2016