Volunteer Intensive – part one

Leading the church is unique… it is one of the most volunteer intensive leadership efforts in existence! The average church staff is charged with motivating a group of people to get up early on the weekends, for no pay, and come give away their time, energy, and money for a faith-based, visceral reward. We can’t promise anything except the chance to work, and give, and contribute to an invisible kingdom! That is why volunteers are the church’s most valuable resource!

Recently, I was contacted by a leader at another church who was seeking to know how we approach volunteer ministry here at the Orchard. Because of the length and breadth of the reply, I will today begin what will be a three part post; outlining my answer to that church staff about how we view and value volunteers here at the Orchard!

Central to any conversation about volunteers at The Orchard is our core value of Simplicity. We intentionally limit the amount of programs and ministries that we offer in order to provide the greatest focus possible on those few things that are are absolutely essential – the weekend services (adults and children) and small groups.

For us, that means that most of our energy, resources (including volunteers), and time is spent on the weekend service and those ministries that directly support the weekend. Our volunteer ministries include our Common Grounds coffee bar, Welcome Teams (which greet and seat our guests, hand out service guides, etc.), Music and Production Teams (music/audio/video/media), and our Orchard Kids teams. We do not offer men’s or women’s ministry, sunday school classes, or a lot of other things that are traditional fare at many churches. This is not because these are not good things… it IS because we are very intentional about asking what things are absolutely necessary to accomplish our mission in light of our strategy. For more on this, check out this post.

I mention this because by narrowing our opportunities for people to get involved, and focusing our efforts on those few ministries, we can be much more strategic and intentional in placing new volunteers. In fact, the closest thing that we here at the Orchard do to a mass appeal for volunteers is called Strategic Service (thanks Andy Stanley!). At our Connecting Point (a newcomers reception) event, our Partnership class, and occasionally on a weekend (before a big event like Easter) we put a Strategic Service/One Time Serve Card into people’s hands.

Instead of trying to determine where someone might fit perfectly based on their gifts or experience, we ask that they apply their heart and hands to one of our areas of greatest need – our most strategic areas of service. Then we direct them to whichever teams need the volunteers the most (our card might list Coffee Bar and Orchard Kids, for example). We find that this gets people serving and connected quickly, which is our goal. Some migrate to other ministries later, but most stay put. We also clearly tell everyone that will listen that serving is the single best way to meet people and make friends at the Orchard. In fact, if they hang around without serving, they run the risk of loneliness and boredom! Serving is THE BEST social gateway. Relationships organically grow as people serve together and it definitely beats the alternative… a lot of church people awkwardly waiting around for staff to create a social event where people MAY interact and MAY connect.  Or even worse… “It’s the Pastor’s job to connect me to the life of the church!”

Next post… how do volunteers take the Next Step?


3 thoughts on “Volunteer Intensive – part one

  1. In my opinion, the Orchard is genius in motivating volunteers. And simplicity is a HUGE deal. I talked to a friend at another church that struggles with folding in volunteers. There are so many ministries to be involved/serve in that many are over taxed and will not help for things like a monthly midweek service or childcare to add a needed Saturday service. Having come from a plethora of ministries church, I was a little nervous coming to the Orchard thinking that my relational needs wouldn’t be met. But I found that the simplicity created time for me to reach out and pursue friendships as I served. I have closer relationships now in the 2 years here than in 15 years elsewhere.

  2. Pingback: Volunteer Intensive - part 2 «

  3. Pingback: Volunteer Intensive - part 3 «

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