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Thoughts on Volunteerism and Service Appreciation

Volunteerism. It's extremely important to any church, small or large. Without volunteers, it would be difficult or impossible to operate many programs or initiatives...and might even make it impossible to operate at all.

Not only is it important to give everyone in the church family an opportunity to serve by helping them identify their spiritual gifts and then assisting them as they determine where and how they can contribute - it's also crucial to inspire and acknowledge those who are already part of the volunteer team.

Everybody has outside commitments. There's the job, the marriage and the family. There's the garden to weed, the house to clean, the presentation to prepare for at the office, and yet another road trip coming up.

Your volunteers may be feeling a little "tapped out" as they head to church to donate their time for a meeting, rehearsal, or to work on a project. A heartfelt "thanks for being here" really can make a difference.

Perhaps some public affirmation in church on Sunday is appropriate on occasion. Or you might host an informal picnic - not associated with a work session - for those who donate their time and talents. You get the idea. It's important to keep the team fired up and motivated!

If you're looking to increase volunteer participation in your church, you might be interested in some thoughts by Bill Hybels, pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago. I read an article recently in which he discussed volunteerism. Addressing the (common) belief that it's tough to ask people to donate their time because it'll just "add more stress to stressed-out people," he says just the opposite occurs when volunteerism is done biblically, wisely, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Hybels suggest that volunteerism done in this context dramatically transforms a person's life in a positive way - one's faith grows, relationships are enriched, and joy is increased. An interesting perspective!

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