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Removing the barriers for more people to serve in your church.

“What’s the one thing that keeps people serving on your teams?”

It was a great question. And I had a tasty answer…

A Lead Pastor was visiting our church one Sunday and couldn’t believe how many people were in serving roles.

“There are smiling, t-shirted people everywhere I look,” he said. “I’d pay a lot of money to have a dream team like yours in my church!”

But that’s the whole point, right? We don’t pay our volunteers. They are literally ’good for nothing.’

We don’t pay volunteers because they are worthless but because they are priceless.

They are the secret sauce to growing our churches.

Because your church will only grow as large as your serving teams enable it to grow. Small serving teams will always create small churches.

And on top of all that, serving is also the number one tool you have to move people from consumers to contributors. It moves people from talking about ‘your church’ to describing it as ‘my church.’

An Irresistible Smell…

Anyway, back to this Pastor’s great question. The one thing that keeps people serving…

My answer?

“A bacon sandwich.”

We are a ‘pop up church’. Which means we have to build church every Sunday from scratch because we meet in a community centre.

And at the time we were running 2 services.

This meant our set up teams had to arrive very early on a Sunday morning.

That was a barrier to serving.

So my first volunteer appointment was Lynn.

She didn’t have a clue about set up or tear down but she did have a passion for cooking. So every Sunday she would show up early and make bacon sandwiches for the team. (And on special occasions she would even do us a full English!)

Suffice to say, I never had any trouble filling my Sunday serving teams. The smell of bacon on a Sunday morning seemed impossible to resist!

I asked this curious Pastor to consider the things that stop people serving in his church. In other words, how could he remove the barriers to volunteering?

You’re Not A Doorstop…

Serving is so much more than the task – its about the people you are trying to reach.

We had a welcome team who would open the door as people arrived every Sunday. Every time I interacted with that team I smiled and said, “Don’t forget, your not a doorstop!”

Their job was so much more than opening the door. (If that’s really all it was about we could have easily bought a doorstop and they could have stayed at home.) Their job was to make our church a welcoming environment for our guests – especially the first timers!

Their role every Sunday was vital. And I wanted them to know it.

Spotlight Vs Flashlight…

Our TikTok culture is obsessed with people getting in the spotlight. We want to be noticed, celebrated, followed and reposted!

The spotlight is so very seductive.

In contrast, the volunteers in our churches do something that flies in the face of our culture. They choose to forgo the spotlight in order to carry a flashlight that points others to Jesus.

They let their lights shine before others, so that they see their good works and praise our father in heaven.

Every week these flashlight carrying volunteers create irresistible come & see cultures, they inspire wonder, they invest in the next generation and they meet people where they are and encourage them to take a next step.

When these volunteers pass up the spotlight and pick up a flashlight they don’t give up their influence – they actually gain it.

As church leader your job is to get better at noticing it and celebrating it…

Its As Easy As 1, 2, 3…

Here is the best way I found to train all your volunteers to ‘win’ every time they serve…

Use this as a challenge to all your serving teams next Sunday (and every Sunday that follows). Just imagine how these 3 simple steps might grow your teams and revolutionise your church.

Ask them to…

  • Find ONE new person to have a significant conversation with today.

  • Suggest TWO small observations about our church and your team that we could tweak for next time to make it better.

  • Identify THREE people from your team (or others) to send a text message that acknowledges their efforts.

Turning Volunteers Into Leaders

Don’t just tell your volunteers what to do – tell them why we do it. People will turn up and serve for a what but they will give everything for a compelling why.

When you keep the main thing, the main thing you’ll quickly turn volunteers into leaders. And as you know, volunteers do some amazing things but its leaders who change the world!

Check out this deeply practical conversation with Rhonda Hinrichs about how you can gain, train & retain volunteers.

Duncan Banks – Director of the Further Faster Network

Autum 2023

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