Is it getting harder to enlist people for ministry at your church? Are volunteers stepping down from their engagement and connection?
With the busy holiday season approaching and the on-going pandemic, it’s no surprise that many churches are finding it hard to retain their volunteers, or find new ones.
Many people may simply feel overwhelmed or exhausted and the pandemic provided an easy way to step away.
Here are four strategies to help you re-engage people—without driving away those who currently serve.
- Invite participation—with limits. Identify key ways people can participate meaningfully with no barriers to entry. Give them some control over organizational resources, such as staff time and money, with little or no oversight. Trust your community.
- Undermine bureaucracy. Put timelines on some positions and committees so they dissolve when the timeline ends no matter how well or poorly things are going. Bureaucracy leads to unhealthy concentrations of power; this strategy helps to undo that.
- Be truly relational. Devote staff time and resources to knowing and supporting people rather than creating and maintaining programs. Do things with congregants rather than for congregants. Offering programs leads to a service-provider mentality wherein congregants feel the staff exists to serve them. Being in relationship with people means supporting their work and doing things with them as partners. It means working on other people’s ideas as if they were your own.
- Impact your community…and be impacted. Be involved locally at the grassroots level. Need and unfairness are everywhere. Work to be a change agent. Churches often try to do this as mission work or outreach that “we” do for “them.” Instead, allow the celebrations and struggles of your local community to change and shape your congregation.
These strategies may also impact the “almost done” people who are feeling burned out and discouraged. What is needed at your church to refresh the faithful who serve regularly?
[Portions excerpted from Church Refugees, Group.]