It’s that time of year again when ministry leaders face the often arduous task of trying to find enough volunteers to successfully meet all the ministry needs. Frustration often runs high and, as ministry leaders, we have a tendency to wonder why people won’t commit to serving.
In his recent article, “The Commitments People Make,”* Dr. Dan Reiland, reminds us that people do indeed make commitments all the time. They commit to things like work, marriage, raising children, 30-year mortgages, and leisure activities in which they find value. And, if I stop long enough to think about it, I do know many people who also commit to ministry in and through their church. But when I’m facing gaps in my ministry, it’s easy to allow myself to be deceived into believing that there is a wide-spread aversion to commitment among the people I serve.
Dr. Reiland writes:
I want you to consider that from a leader’s vantage point, it does little to no good to focus on what people won’t do. Or to focus on what certain people won’t do. That only wastes time and energy, discourages you, and discourages the people around you. To concentrate on the negative makes the issue worse than it really is. In fact, the more you think and talk about the negative aspects about lack of commitment in your church, you literally help lower the level of commitment even further.
That’s it. I’m convicted.
So, what’s the antidote to this kind of negative thinking? Dr. Reiland goes on to make some excellent suggestions for the way you can improve your process for inviting people in to ministry and I commend them to you. … But what about right now? What about the knot in your gut as you wonder how your ministry will survive with this dearth of volunteers? Well, as trite as it sounds, I encourage you to count your blessings. Each person who says “yes” to your invitation to serve is a blessing. Celebrate them! Be faithful to those God has provided and see if he doesn’t add more (a little twist on the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25!).
At my church, we will be conducting a volunteer ministry training on Saturday. We are a very small parish and we are certainly struggling to have a full complement of volunteers for our ministries. Like many churches, our budget is tighter than tight. But this Saturday I am committed to making sure that every servant minister knows how much I appreciate his/her willingness to serve. We will have home baked goodies, we will have fun as we get better acquainted, and everyone will get the training they need to successfully accomplish the ministry they’ve committed to. My prayer is that each one know that they are blessed to be a blessing… and that it will be contagious!