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How to Fix Broken Volunteers

Meredith Mahon Morris September 29, 2014

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Light Stock VolunteerLeaders fix broken people and volunteers, working to get them active. Church is full of broken people. Below are several different types of volunteers who are in every church and what you can do to possible “fix” them and, as a result, strengthen your ministry.

Mr. Ideas for You to Do: He’s a church consultant in disguise. In his mind, he’s a combination of Rick Warren, George Barna, and Billy Graham. His ideas would work if You would just do them. His last church was heaven on earth, and he knows what it’ll take to move this church to the next level. He just doesn’t have the time to do it. Your job is to listen to him, and get him to act on one of his ideas. Find a small idea of his that fits with the vision God has given your ministry and release him to see it work.

Mrs. I’ll Pray About It: This lady has been praying about getting involved in your church for 15 years. She’s so afraid to be doing the wrong thing that she does nothing. Your job is to gently convince her that the Angel Gabriel is probably not going to show up and tell her to become a greeter. Encourage her to try things out. Offer short term chances for her to be involved. Explain that your not trying to send her to Africa to treat Ebola victims, but you’re looking for an extra pair of hands to help around the church.

Mr. I Can Do Anything: This guy is talented. Everything he touches prospers. Your job is to get the right things in his hands. Get him to focus on things that matter. Just because you can do anything doesn’t mean you should. Coach him in setting priorities so that he can do a few focused things well. Connect his passions to His purposes.

Mrs. I’m So Busy: She is Mr. Anything’s cousin. She might not be great at everything, but she’s got her hands full. Your job is to pry a few of the less important things out of them. Show her the value in “being” a child of God and not just “doing” things for God.

Mr. Serves a Lot and Complains Just as Much: He’s there when you need him. He shows up faithfully, but he never stops whining. Sure, he’ll help set up at 5:30 am for a community picnic, but he’ll tell everyone it was ridiculous to set up that early. You have two options with this guy. You can get him involved in the planning stages of events or you can show him the door. No one needs his negativity, and it will be a catalyst in driving others away.

Mrs. Doesn’t Play Well with Others: She does what’s asked, but she prefers to do it alone. Sure she’ll make 300 center pieces for that banquet, but don’t ask her to let anyone help. She does things with excellence, but makes others angry. You can let her work alone, but you need to teach her the finer points of the Gospel. She may never be a people person, but she needs to learn to value of others. She won’t be around forever and needs to find a suitable replacement for herself.

Mr. Can’t Make a Decision: This is the guy who manages 60 employees during the week, but can’t decide if he should make 1 or 2 pots of coffee for an elder’s meeting. Coffee is not a senior leadership decision. Your job is to give him room to make mistakes. Let him know you trust him, and you’ll support the decisions he makes. Any one with the Spirit of the living God inside should be able to make a pot of coffee. 

Mrs. Doesn’t Follow Through: She’s great at starting things. Her passion burns like a forest fire for the first month of any project, but her attention span is more like a lightning bug. She’s the first to volunteer and the first to jump ship. Your job is to leverage her passion to get things going, and teach her not to leave until someone capable of taking over arrives. Connect her with reluctant but consistent people who can sustain something after she helps start it.

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