Let me say that the reason that I am bringing these four areas to your attention is not because I’ve done well as a church employee in these areas…but rather, these are areas that I’ve failed in, struggled with, and have had to crash and burn a lot to come to this place of rethinking them.
So I began with meetings on Wednesday.
Nothing has bothered me more recently than this issue. I think that for the most part, our expectation of volunteers is often unhealthy, and puts them in places of ministry and service without a clear boundary.
Let me keep is short and simple. By this, I mean that we just often ask of our volunteers too much, without taking into consideration the rest of their lives. We assume that they eat, think and breathe church as much as we do, but I have found that is not true. Volunteers actually have a home, family and life outside of church, with lots of other responsibilities. While often our entire job is up at church, thinking of needs we have for volunteers, without much consideration of what is demanded.
When I was single I knew less of what family life required. When I was married I started to gain a better perspective. But when we had a baby, wow, I had a whole new appreciation for the demands of family life, and the necessity to help set clear and appropriate expectations of our volunteers, without asking them to sacrifice their families on the altar of ministry…which unfortunately many of us church employees do.
When you plan a meeting for volunteers during the week, and also often expect them to be at youth group midweek, as well as an occasional weekend event, and be at church on Sunday for the youth Sunday school. Wow! That’s a lot. That’s not even taking into consideration the service when they attend. And do they have a small group for themselves, or a ministry they attend, with its own events?
See how this all starts to pile up. All this ministry, and we haven’t even started talking about family life yet.
Most people want to serve, and will give their heart to serve. That’s where YOU as the leader need to set appropriate volunteer expectations. They must set good boundaries as well, but you are a part of that dance, and I believe just as guilty in the process of burning out leaders.
- When someone wants to volunteer, set clear expectations.
- They are the volunteer, you are the employee. Don’t give them your work.
- Assess what you are asking of them each week. Is it too much? Take into consideration all they do at the church, home, work, social, etc.
- Are you taking them away from being grounded in a bible study, fellowship at church, etc. by requiring too much?
- With what you expect from them, how does that affect their home life, whether they are married or not…because if you don’t set healthy boundaries now, you won’t do it later.
- Do you keep in mind that your full-time job is to be at church 40 plus hours a week…but this volunteer also has a full-time job possibly, a family, social life, etc.? I always asked myself…if I was working full-time in a church, would I also volunteer 10-15 hours a week on top of that. Would you? That is what you are asking many volunteers?
I could go on, but this is a good start for now. I will pick up next with what are you modeling as a leader?