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Volunteers –
how do I win them, how do I motivate them?

“And who’s gonna do that, please? We don’t have any people!”

Only yesterday I heard that statement again.
It was about redesigning the mother/father/child space in the church. I was of the opinion that in any case sufficient toys should be provided for the little ones.
The reaction: “And who should clean the toys on Sundays? I don’t have people for this.”
We’re talking about 1,250 attendees. Is there really no one who would invest 15 minutes on Sundays to serve the moms and babies?

In the church that my husband and I led for 25 years, the situation was different. There were about 100 members here. And I don’t think we ever rejected a task because there were no employees. Everybody was there.

98% of the employees in the community are volunteers. (This number should not be understood statistically!). The entire community lives from voluntary work.
The English word for volunteer means you are doing your service by choice.
In German, however, there is a much more important word: honorary position.
Have you ever thought about what that means?


honorary position

So it’s an honor to hold this office. It’s an honor to do this job. It’s an honor to be investing my time and energy here!

Really? Is there anyone who sees it that way?

In his letter to the Colossians the apostle Paul writes:
“Do all that you do with your hearts as something you do for the Lord and not for men. Be conscious that you receive from the Lord eternal life as a reward.” Col. 3, 23

Paul does not mean to say that we only get eternal life through our ministry. He wants to say that it is an unspeakably great honor to serve in the church. For we serve Jesus Himself. And Jesus not only rejoices incredibly in our effort, he also has a reward for us. For what is better than to stand before Jesus at the end of all days, and he will say to you, “Wow, you have done this so well, I am so proud of you that you have served my church and me!


Postion of Honor

It is not a burden that a leader places on his church when he asks for cooperation. It’s an office of honor what he offers.

I’ve been doing my pastoral service on a voluntary basis for over 25 years. Between 30 and 50 hours a week. (This should not be a comparison value now!) And this work was the most beautiful work, which one can have only! I have often thanked Jesus for allowing me to live with the privilege of doing the best work in the world!


The meaning is decisive

Every form of work and commitment is ultimately driven by meaning. Of course, it can also make sense to earn money.
But that’s not part of volunteering.
Of course, the purpose in the church should not be to gain power and influence.

What’s the point of volunteering in the community?
What vision do you convey?
What is the purpose of your work?

Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Chicago coined the well-known phrase:
The church is hope for the world!

That means for the people who work in the church, they work very concretely in THE hope for the world. And that means:

In child service:
I’m working on it so that the children can get to know Jesus.
I promote and support children. The children were/are Jesus infinitely important.
I work with children who do not feel loved to have a home in the church and with Jesus.
I’m working on the church having a future. The more enthusiastic the children are about Jesus and his church today, the sooner they will continue to build the church.
I’m gonna change people’s lives. And maybe many more than it seems.
For the children, I’m like Jesus. That’s a great responsibility.
If nobody does the job, our children are lost as adults and our church dies.

In worship:
I help people to be led into the presence of Jesus.
I worship God and encourage others to do the same.
I proclaim Jesus the Saviour and Lord.
I am an example that not the things of this world are adorable, but Jesus.
With good work, I glorify God.
If nobody does the job, nobody gets encouraged from the beginning.

In the cleaning service:
I help create a home for people.
I’m kind of cleaning God’s golden floor.
I serve people who are there for others.
Through a clean and beautiful church, people are invited to get involved with Jesus.
If no one does the job, the whole community building will go to rack and ruin.

Welcome service:
I can be the face of the community.
People who would perhaps turn around at the door enter through my inviting posture.
People see Jesus in me when I welcome them friendly.
If nobody does the job, people won’t feel welcome and undecided ones could leave at the last moment.

Financial Services:
I’m helping to build the church of God.
I manage the treasures that Jesus entrusted to us.
If I handle the money of the church well, I can help to reach many people for Jesus.
If no one does the job, the community has no money.

In technical service:
I am working on it so that the people on stage can proclaim Jesus well.
My technique, my light helps people in the church to concentrate on what is said or sung and to have an encounter with God.
When no one does the job, people are distracted from the actual message because the light or sound is so dramatic.

In prayer service:
I can take people by the hand and accompany them to come to Jesus.
In the prayer ministry, people see Jesus in me.
I may witness how Jesus touches people in prayer, heals them or performs miracles.
If no one did the job, maybe many wouldn’t pray.

Kitchen duty:
Love goes through the stomach, Jesus also constantly ate with the people.
People who feel well cared for and welcome will also feel well cared for and welcome by Jesus.
People associate a sweet snack and good coffee with the goodness of God.
A lovingly prepared biscuit tray shows people God’s appreciation and hospitality in a very practical way.
If no one does the job, the community is cold and uninviting.

And so on!
Our ministry in the church is incredibly fulfilling. Show the people in the church how great it is to be a coworker in God’s team.

Clear task
And give people a clear task.
For example, if someone can only help from time to time, then think about what exactly suits them. A gift test is also always helpful. But sometimes it is enough to inspire people with the above mentioned SINN.
In any case, it is best if you can clearly tell your new employee what you are looking for. Many would not work in the child service in principle, but to take over a driving service, that they could imagine perhaps.

To get back to our example from the beginning.
If you can say exactly what you are looking for in a conversation with a person or perhaps regularly in the announcements, then you will also find someone.
The question: “Could any of you imagine vacuuming the baby room every Sunday after the last service for 15 minutes and wiping over the cleared toys?” would certainly appeal to someone.