Ten Church Strategies: The Ministry Partner Strategy (Volunteers)


Check out this quote from Bill Hybels from his book, ‘Volunteer Revolution‘:

“It’s as if God has work gloves on. And he calls us to roll up our sleeves and join him with our talents, our money, our time, and our passion. He wants his mission to become ours. ‘If you’re chasing the wind,’ he tells us, ‘you can keep right on doing that. Or you can hook up with me, and together we’ll transform this hurting planet.'”

The Ministry Partner System is the local church’s answer to God’s call for everyone to ‘roll up their sleeves’ and partner with Him. The problem is that individuals often view the local church as an organization meant to serve him or herself instead of seeing themselves as being a vital part of a body of believers. Ephesians 4 clearly defines a key role of the pastor (among others): “…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” In this installment of ‘The Ten Church Systems‘ I will outline how the church can identify, equip, and release people to ‘partner’ together in fulfilling your church’s mission. If you haven’t already, I recommend you first read my ‘Getting Started Thoughts and Disclaimers’, written in three parts: Part 1Part 2Part 3.

Key Sub-Systems of The Ministry Partner System (Volunteers)
Following are the key sub-systems needed to develop and sustain this system. Please note that the term “Ministry Partner” and “Volunteer” are interchangeable throughout this article.

  • Ministry Identification System
    It can be very frustrating to potential volunteers when they actually want to serve somewhere in the church, but have no information about what volunteer positions are available and what the commitment is for each one. This system will identify every ministry position in the church as well as clarify each one’s basic job description, ministry expectations and requirements. 
  • Ministry On-Ramp System
    It seems the traditional method for filling volunteer positions in the church is through direct recruitment. Although this method can be very effective if done properly, it can become grossly inadequate, plus it means potential volunteers won’t find a place to serve until they get that phone call or email. The ‘Ministry On-Ramp System’ will develop simple ways for church attendees to get plugged into each person’s best possible position. On ramps may include web based solutions, signup tables, ministry fairs, ministry partner classes, sermon series and more. Depending on your church’s Ministry Partner strategy, it may also include a volunteer apprenticeship program.
  • Ministry Partner Resource System
    As the Systems/People Matrix so aptly illustrates, putting great people into bad systems leads to frustration, resentment, and often a high turnover of some of your best people. This system is a critical part to your church’s health and growth. It will include volunteer training (helping them understand how to do the job as well as allowing them to develop and grow in it), resourcing (making sure they have everything they need to be a success), and encouragement (providing meaningful and regular feedback).
  • Ministry Partner Communication System
    Although communication could really fall within the above mentioned ‘Ministry Partner Resource System’, it deserves it’s own mention since it is so critical to a healthy volunteer system. The fact is, good communication breeds loyalty, trust, and commitment while bad communication develops the exact opposite. This system will ensure your volunteers are on the same page with you regarding schedules, expectations and potential problems.
  • Ministry Partner Celebration System
    It’s OK that we have volunteers who serve ‘behind the scenes’. It’s not OK that they are so incognito that weeks, months, even years go by without a ‘thanks’, ‘we are so proud to have you on this team’ and ‘your contribution makes a difference’! This system will ensure everyone is honored and cared for during their tenure as volunteers (instead of just at the end of their tenure!) This system may include simple ‘thank you cards‘, emails, phone calls, and perhaps even an event like a ‘Volunteer Appreciation Banquet’. It is recommended that the celebration system also utilizes the occasional gift certificate and acknowledges milestones (5, 10, 15+ years of service).

Note: Inspiration for the Ten Church Systems comes from Nelson Searcy and the Eight Systems of the Local Church he proposed in his free e-book entitled, ‘Healthy Systems, Healthy Church‘.

Photo from mangostock on istockphoto.com

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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