By: Rev. Dr. Rick Jordan
How can we as leaders motivate those who serve as volunteers?
- Frame their work as ministry. Is this volunteer service? Yes, it is. They are unpaid. Your church/ministry could not afford to pay them what they are worth to the institution. But, they are more than cheap labor. They are using God-given gifts with their God-given time to serve God’s dream for God’s creation. That’s a lot of God. View them as co-laborers in Christ.
- Love them by listening to them. In his book, Life Together, Dietrich Bonheoffer says, “The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear.”
- Ask them about their faith journey. Krista Tippet begins her On Being interviews with this question: “What was your religious background?” That simple question opens a world of interesting stories and insights. It is possible that you have worked alongside a church member for many years yet do not know their pilgrimage story. Giving them an opportunity to share it with you will enrich your relationship.
- Ask them, “How is it going? How can I help?” These are not questions to be asked every week but should be asked every year.
- Say “Thank you.” Your co-laborers are not laboring so they will be thanked, but giving this small affirmation reminds them that their efforts are appreciated. It is the little pay they do receive.
- Tell a story. As you hear of the impact of your co-laborer’s ministry, pass that along to them.
- Jane was telling me yesterday how much she appreciated the care you show for children, particularly her granddaughter,
- Thank you for keeping personnel committee discussions confidential.
- The church always looks beautiful for Advent because of your talents.
- Share a story. Let the congregation know about the quiet impact a co-laborer is having on the church and the Church. Interview a co-laborer for a worship service or for a service dedicated to spotlighting faithful ministry.
- Give a gift. A gift with the church’s logo such as a portfolio or an article of clothing, a one-volume Bible commentary, a gift card – these do not need to be expensive. As the recipient of such gifts, I can testify as a “volunteer” in my church that I have a warm feeling that my time and efforts are appreciated in these small tokens.
A retired minister, Dr Rick Jordan is a 20+-year member of Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC where he leads an adult Bible study, serves as a deacon, as Personnel Council chairperson, and on the Vision Navigation Team. Contact him for more information on how our partner can help you.