Being the pastor of an intimate congregation is always a challenge. Our congregation is just about big enough to be able to pay our bills, but not big enough to have the financial base for hiring new staff. That means everything has to be done by volunteers cooperating.
One of the differences between working with staff and working with volunteers is that volunteers have far less time. A staff member is paid to be available to do a job while volunteers sacrifice time they could be spending on something else.
It is easy to develop a mentality that you are “only working with volunteers” so you cannot demand the same level of excellence. This simply isn’t true.
What is true working with volunteers is that you have to delegate tasks rather than jobs and develop something of a composite staff member from a team of volunteers. This is something I am still learning to do, and so far I have not had tremendous success outside of our music team.
Our music team is an incredibly talented group, almost entirely men, who give of their time to form two bands and an assortment of other ensembles. They have learned to work together, to be flexible in style and presentation. None of them give more than a couple hours per week, but they continually improve. They practice and buy their own equipment. Most importantly, a couple of them have particularly stepped up and done jobs they were not initially “qualified” to do because those jobs needed to be done.
That, I think, is the core value we need to look for in volunteers. I was reading through an article on hiring people for a startup, and one particular point seemed to apply to church volunteers. Amidst a lot of job-related stuff, the author mentioned learning how to separate the “Can Do the Job” people from the “Can Get the Job Done” people. This is very true when it comes to volunteers.
Volunteers who “can do” are fine for routine things, stuff that is repetitive and never changes. But for those who are going to lead and work together on larger, more public things, you need “get the job done” kind of people. You need people who look at a task, acquire new skills as needed and accomplish the task.
These kinds of people are rare – probably the rarest of the rare in the church. There are plenty of “can do” people in the world who would like you to believe that they are “get the job done” people, but they aren’t.
If you are a single pastor in an intimate congregation, you simply cannot build effective, growing ministry on “can do.” The ministry will be limited to you own ability to figure out how to get the job done and handing out menial tasks to others. You will wind out stretched beyond your capacity.
Narrow your focus, limit the number of ministries and programs according to the number of “get the job done” people you have to lead them. Meet with those people regularly, provide them with training and incentive. You will find your self far more effective when working with people who get the job done.