This week's theme is working with and learning from our volunteer leaders!
What do the people in your church know that you don’t know? The answer – a great deal! What was the last helpful and encouraging thing you learned about someone in your church, or from someone in your church? There is a vast reservoir of knowledge, experience, and wisdom residing in your church family, and you are blessed if you learn from it.
When I arrived at my church, I realized there was much I did not know about the church, the community, and frankly, about how best to lead the people toward maturity in Christ. I have enjoyed learning from the volunteer leaders in my church over the years.
Here are some ways that I have learned from the volunteer leaders in my church:
Schedule learning lunches. These are mostly informal lunches, usually scheduled in advance, but sometimes on a whim. I use these times to pick the brains of my leaders, share my wonderings and questions, and use them as a sounding board for new ideas. These lunches have been invaluable. Many times my leaders will insist on paying for my lunch, but often, I can’t let them, because I have received so much wisdom and insight from them that I owe them at least the lunch!
Take member field trips. I have taken rides on combines and tractors, walked the fields, and rejoiced in some great crops. I’ve flown in their planes and taken tours of their companies. One day I worked fourteen hours with a doctor felling a tree and turning it into firewood. I’ve toured warehouses, sat in offices, had them cut my hair, and eaten in their restaurants and boardrooms. Every time I get out of the office, and spend time with a member or attender of our church, I learn a lot about them and how God is using them in our community.
Help them on “property projects.” Many of our members will come to the church property to get some work done that is in their area of expertise. Sometimes I help. Okay, it’s more like watching, but I do help when I can. Those hours spent with a church member are invaluable in getting to know them, their mother’s name, the struggles they’ve been through, and their passion for the church. A couple years ago I even helped one of our guys install some new windows in my house, the parsonage. That was an adventure – but none of the contractors in our church will be hiring me anytime soon.
Ask for their input. When there is a big decision on the table, maybe it’s time to dismount a dead horse, or kill an existing program, or start a new one – it’s always good to get input from the key volunteer leaders who will be affected by the decision. Here is where you can learn what your people really think. Some pastors are afraid of this, but I think it is absolutely critical to do this. Hey, you’re going to find out what they think anyway sooner or later, why not have the learning on your terms?
Allow them to evaluate. Finally, want to learn from your leaders? Give them an evaluation ahead of time so that they can really tell you what they think about a particular ministry, message, or event. What your people think is likely what many visitors will think. Want input on your Sunday sermon, your handling of the board meeting, or the new staff you’ve just hired? Toss them an evaluation form, put your batting helmet on – then get ready to learn!
On the 200churches Podcast this week we are going to hear from one of our volunteer leaders, who happens to run several companies in the spirit of Kingdom business. He’s been a leader in our church for over thirty years. I hope you enjoy the discussion! Learn from your volunteer leaders – they know too much to let them keep it to themselves!
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