As Christians and especially as Methodists we are challenged to “Do Good”. A simple enough concept and certainly something that we collectively and individually work to accomplish. We do it by supporting the work of various agencies (religious, governmental and non-profits). We support causes with donations, wearing buttons and t-shirts.We go on mission trips and pack lunches. It seems that every time we look there is a new opportunity for us.

While many of the organizations and causes we support can fund paid staff, most rely to a very large degree on volunteers. This is especially true of our churches and religious institutions. We need dedicated volunteers for a huge variety of important tasks.

We need volunteers to do very routine activities. Just think about your worship services: ushers, communion element preparation, choirs, praise bands, counters, bulletin folding, paraments, scripture reading, etc. There are also the leadership needs: finance, worship planning, trustee, education. The list seems endless.

Have you noticed we seem to see the same people in many of those roles or is it that we may not know who’s doing that work on our behalf?

As membership rolls have declined and members tend to be present for only 25-50% of regular worship services. It seems more and more like the work is falling on fewer people. In some cases, we are doing less good or doing good less well. In the metropolitan area the turnover of members is a critical issue. (In my church we turnover about 60% every 5 years.) How can we create an environment that will encourage more people to be engaged?

First, we need to ASK! We all tend to ask people we know. But there is a wealth of people we don’t normally talk to that would be willing to help but they are unwilling to step forward without an invitation. Engaging new people, especially in short term activities helps them to become integrated into the church family and more comfortable with becoming more involved.

People volunteer and agree to participate for many different reasons. It’s important to understand the motivation of your volunteers. Are they passionate about a cause or activity? Are they looking to meet others? Use some skills, gain new skills? What is your volunteer opportunity/task offering?

Look for untraditional sources, many of the things we seek volunteers for are opportunities that can bring or at least expose others to the church family. Many service organizations are looking for ready-made projects and opportunities. There are organizations that specialize in promoting volunteer opportunities. One Brick and Volunteer Arlington are 2 that come quickly to mind. Do students in your community need to meet community service requirements or gain application strength for college or job references.

Are you using your Spiritual Gifts/interests inventory? We have all heard, “I filled out the card to ____, but no one ever called me.” If we are asking the questions we need to respond. Once you have been successful you need to reward those that have stepped forward. Yes, they should feel the satisfaction of a job well done but they need to have it acknowledged.

  • Thank the individual and the group or team.
  • Highlight the achievements.
  • It is about the person and the work but especially the person.
  • Consider these people as ambassadors for your organization.
  • Remember them … birthdays, celebrate the project, be joyful together. Especially important for long term events and engagement.
  • Say THANK YOU. Yes, I know it’s repeated but you can’t say it enough.
  • Share ideas that are working.

Let’s all find way that will share the Good News and Do Good!

Gene Cross,
Arlington District Lay Leader