Do-it-yourself strategies on building value for your volunteer teams — straight from the Carpenter.
Have you ever wondered what ministry would be like with a dedicated and faithful volunteer team — a team filled with people willing to immediately drop what they’re doing to serve? Sound impossible? Jesus gave a strong and powerful recruiting presentation in which he simply said, “Come follow me.” Immediately, the disciples dropped their nets, quit their jobs, and even left their families to follow him. What could you accomplish in your ministry if you had a team with that level of dedication? (Okay, maybe not the part about leaving their families…but
really, how valuable would such a team be?)
Almost every role in ministry involves working and interacting with others. Regardless of whether you’re building teams of leaders, teachers, or assistants, you can create an atmosphere where people — rather than positions or responsibilities — are valued. Jesus is a great example; he spoke to his disciples through his actions: building connections, partners, success, and balance — and ultimately, value. You can do it yourself, too.
Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well in John 4 is one of the most beloved stories in the gospels. The woman, who’d just met Jesus, informed him that she didn’t have a husband. Jesus essentially responded, “You’re right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you’ve had five, and the man you now have isn’t your husband. What you’ve just said is quite true.” In this profound response, Jesus accomplished something remarkable; he built a connection with the woman. In that moment the woman knew Jesus truly knew her. He knew more than her
name, occupation, or hometown. He knew her story.
Do It Yourself: Building value means building authentic connections with people you serve alongside. Too often
the people we serve with can be nothing more than names and perhaps a phone number on a schedule. Jesus always saw people as individuals; real people with real emotions, real hopes, real desires, and real stories. An authentic connection with people is impossible without first knowing their stories. What are the most important things in their lives right now? What are their biggest fears? What are their greatest joys? What are their hobbies and
interests? There are no shortcuts when it comes to building connections with people. Just good old-fashioned time, effort, and more time.
Nail It: Valuable teams are made of people who feel valued. By building connections with each other and knowing
each other’s stories, you begin the process of building value within a team. Names on the schedule transform into real people with real value.
Jesus’ invitation, “Come follow me,” was more than a recruiting presentation. It was an opportunity to partner with him in a divine mission. Likewise, people who “help out” may invest an hour of their time — but “ministry partners” invest themselves. They joyfully give not only their time, but also their thoughts, energy, and passion to bring tremendous value to the team.
Scripture reminds us that there are many parts but only one body. Likewise, when we allow team members to become partners in ministry, we let them see the value they bring to the entire body or ministry.
“You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts –limbs, organs, cells — but no matter how many parts you can name you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of one Spirit, we all said goodbye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything” 1 Corinthians 12:12 (The Message).
Do It Yourself: Often we recruit people to be hands and feet, but we don’t let them see how they’re connected to
a large and integrated ministry body. Transforming “helpers” into partners is a process that requires intentionality. Keep these things in mind as you begin the transformation.
• Powerful Words — Words and titles have power. If you want people to feel like partners, call them partners and
avoid less-valuing titles such as helpers and workers.
• Basic Contacts — Without fail, greet your team, maintain eye contact, and use people’s names. Aloof behavior,
even on busy Sunday mornings, communicates that someone isn’t worth acknowledging.
• Equal Treatment — Your team members may play different roles and have different responsibilities of varying
weight. When you treat people as equals regardless of their contribution, longevity, or responsibilities, you enhance their personal value and build their connection to your ministry.
Nail It: When you build vested partners in your ministry, you create a team that’s connected and energized,
allowing people to feel the respect and value you have for them and the role they play.