For the past three years, I have been working with our small congregation to develop an equipping culture. My prior experience with a large congregation involved to maintaining and growing equipping systems and processes that were already in place. Transitioning to a smaller church setting has provided me the opportunity to practically explore the “why” behind some of those structures and processes I have taken for granted.
I recently signed up to help with an off-site ministry event. I had a busy week and didn’t give the event much thought until the night before, when I realized I had a lot more questions than I had answers! I found myself feeling somewhat frustrated because I didn’t have information that would help me feel confident as I stepped into my assignment. As a result of this experience, I learned why a defined process is a useful tool when planning ministry events.
Here’s one way you can develop such a tool. Gather a team of inquisitive, detail-oriented people and start asking questions:
- What time do volunteers need to arrive?
- What time will they be finished?
- If it’s an off-site event, where should they park?
- Is the event indoors or outdoors? If outdoors, does rain cancel the event?
- What is appropriate attire? (e.g., work clothes, comfortable shoes, etc.)
- Do they need to bring special equipment or supplies?
- Who do they report to?
- Upon arrival, where will they find this person?
- Who will they be working with? (Remember, no one should serve alone!)
- What specific task(s) will the volunteer be required to do?
- Will they be trained prior to the event or at the event?
- How will we promote this event?
- How will we invite people to participate?
- Where and how can people sign up to serve?
Ask until your well of questions runs dry! No question is insignificant. Believe me, if you come up with it, someone else will also.
Feel like a tedious exercise? Perhaps. You may not mind walking into a strange place without knowing exactly who will orient you or specifically what you will do. But there are plenty of people who want to know exactly what to expect and won’t sign up to serve until they have enough information to feel comfortable and confident.
By the way… if you oversee the volunteer ministry of your church, I encourage you to sign up occasionally as a volunteer. It’s a good way to evaluate what’s going on in various ministry areas from the perspective of a volunteer. You can then help ministry leaders become high-capacity leaders of high-capacity teams, not to mention helping volunteers have positive and fulfilling ministry experiences. Just remember to seek first to understand and then to be understood. Ask questions that will help you understand specifics of the particular ministry so that you can be helpful while avoiding any hint of micro-managing.
Lastly…debrief ministry events as soon afterwards as possible. Even if you don’t anticipate repeating that particular event, you will discover tips to increase your effectiveness when planning the next event. And don’t forget to celebrate your success!