Hows and Whys with Volunteers

Last week I spend a whole bunch of time with someone I’m interviewing for a position on my team. There is something I heard him say several times that resonated with me, something that I know I forget from time to time. He spoke about often about the hows and whys and how often during training and on boarding volunteers, we spend a significant amount of time talking about all the “Hows” of ministry. How to connect with a student. How to lead a small group. How to follow up with a parent. How to do one thing and how not to do another. Honestly, a lot of training has to be about the “Hows.”

However, we must take care not to neglect the Why. Why’s without Hows are just ideas and theories and Hows without Whys are just tasks. But when you link a bunch of Hows with a Why, you build context. You create reason and significance for the task. When you clearly communicate the Why, you tap into passion and vision. Few people are wired to enjoy completing task simply for the sake of completing tasks, but when you connect the Why behind the task, then you create the motivation needed to not only complete the task but you create room for excellence and innovation because it’s not just about the task anymore.

The other thing I feel we need to pay attention to is that over time, people forget the Why. I’m amazed by how often in ministry I’ll have people ask, “Now why are we doing this again?” Or I may get all kinds of other suggestions as to what we could do instead that make no sense at all. This is clearly an indicator that people have forgotten the “Why.” Honestly, the why is so closely attached to vision, it’s almost indistinguishable, and vision needs to be repeated… over and over and over and over again.

So, don’t forget they Why, because you’ll never build anything great with a bunch of Hows.

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kenny@childrensministryonline.com'
Kenny Conley is the primary author of Childrens Ministry Online and the NextGen Pastor at Gateway Church in Austin, TX. In addition to creating the Illuminate Conference, a high quality kidmin conference designed specifically for volunteers, Kenny is a published author and speaker.