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How To Create a Thriving Volunteer Culture

by Bob D’Ambrosio

If only there was a quick fix to “get more volunteers.” Church leaders continue to ask what they can say or do to convince people to serve. What are the best recruitment methods? How do I get more people to say, yes? Inspiring people for volunteer service requires more than a new sales pitch.  Activating people into the life of the church involves making changes to the foundation—the culture. Culture is the soil that prepares people for service involvement.

In their book Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore, Thom and Joani Schultz state the fact that every year 2.7 million church members fall into inactivity—they go underground. And, as you’ve probably already noticed, church attendance is shrinking. While 40% of Americans say they attend church every week, the actual number is more like 20%.

Another reality is the fact that our current church volunteer pool is aging out.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in their 2013 Report on Volunteering in the United States, 42.9% of volunteers ages 65 and over did their service mainly through or for a religious organization, compared with only 26.8% of volunteers ages 16 to 24.

Oddly, while the rate of church activity and volunteering declines, volunteerism overall in our country has held its own.  Volunteering is actually very popular right now. It’s become the standard for corporate America from Chick fil-A to Wal-Mart, from Target to IBM.

The role that corporations play in volunteer service was the key topic during the 2014 Conference on Volunteering and Service sponsored by the Points of Light foundation. During the conference, David Abney, CEO of United Parcel Service, announced that their company has pledged to complete 20 million hours of global volunteerism and community service by the end of 2020. He stated, “Volunteerism has always been an integral part of our company culture.”

“Part of our company culture.”

Culture is the key to raising the level of church volunteer involvement.  Does your church culture invite people to serve, or does it turn them off?

Research from Thom and Joani’s new book, along with hundreds of hours of interviews conducted for the documentary When God Left the Building, revealed four key strategies (called the 4 Acts of Love)  that can draw people back into a thriving relationship with God and involvement in the church.

If your ministry is being hindered by a shrinking volunteer pool, I’d encourage you to attend a new training from Group’s Equipping Institute designed to help you create a thriving volunteer culture at your church. The course examines what keeps people from engaging in the church, but more importantly, what may help to bring them back. It’s also offered as 6-week online course, or as face-to-face training in Loveland, CO.

Learn more about the 4 Acts of Love, Why Nobody Wants To Go To Church Anymore and resources that can help transform your church’s culture HERE.

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