Every February at Christ Church, we hold a leadership conference called “Navigating Change.” Our best attended break-out sessions always involve helping churches “find volunteers” in some way, shape or form.
Churches of all sizes are always looking for more volunteers and are hungry to learn how to find them!
Surely we need “laborers for the harvest,” but we need to expunge the word “volunteer” from our ecclesiastical vocabulary.
By the very nature of the concept, “volunteers” are often low commitment, unreliable and fair weathered. If I am volunteering to work in the school concession stand, I don’t need much of an excuse to opt out after a long, hard day at work. After all, I am “only a volunteer.”
It occurs to me, there are no volunteers in the Bible. There are only ministers called by God.
Biblical ministers are people called to ministry by Christ, and very few quit their day jobs (including Paul). People in bivocational ministry are high commitment, self-sacrificing and relentless. They understand that God gave His best to them in Jesus Christ and they offer their very best to God’s service.
Here are six steps to help move your church from a “Volunteer Culture” to a “Bivocational Minister Culture.”
1. Focus on being “called” to bivocational ministry.
This takes the concept of “calling” to the laity. Accepting God’s call is significantly more compelling than accepting a nomination by a committee.
2. Ask people if they are ready to give of their very best.
High expectations yield high results and allow people to self-differentiate concerning their time and commitment before agreeing to serve.
3. Formally commission people to ministry by having them come forward in church and lay hands upon them.
This liturgical act of empowerment is crucial!
4. Constantly equip, deploy and encourage those whom God has called.
Accepting God’s calling to bivocational ministry is the beginning of the journey, not the end. People need to be given the tools, resources and support to be effective.
5. Prepare leaders for both the difficulties and rewards of leadership and ministry.
Leading for Jesus in a fallen world is hard work. Make sure people know what they are getting into, and also let them know what a joy ministry can be.
6. Celebrate the ministries of your bivocational ministers in every way possible, by every means possible.
Always recognize the people in your church who are doing what you want them to do! Don’t let the “squeaking wheels”consume your energy and attention; lavish your energy and attention on those who are selflessly serving.
The church is commissioned by Jesus Christ to take the Gospel to a fallen world. This is far too daunting a task for volunteers! We need bivocational ministers!