Professional vs. Volunteer

I’ve had to come to a very important understanding of my role in ministry over the past 16 years — I have come to understand my role to be not the DOER but the OVERSEER.  Now, this was not an easy conclusion to accept due to my love of working directly with people, especially with children.  But, as I have grown in my ministry, and as our church has grown, I have come to realize that my calling is not to do everything, but rather my calling is to equip OTHERS to do these things. 

I can remember my first year at HUMC.  I was SO overwhelmed.  This church was smaller than the previous church I served by around 700 members.  And, yet, there seemed to be so much more to do!  I realized very quickly that the volunteer base I had at my previous church was much larger and had been in place long before I arrived.  Therefore, at the other church I simply walked in and continued “managing” what was already created.  Here, however, I felt very much like I had to start from scratch!

In all honesty, I need to preface this by explaining that not ALL of the ministries (I was over all age level ministries) were lacking volunteers.  We had a very solid Jr. High youth leadership as well as a solid Sr. High leadership team.  There were some children’s ministry Sunday school teachers that were pretty reliable, but not a team of folks like I had before.  And, interestingly enough, it seems that once I was hired, those who had stepped up in the interim to “fill in” until someone was hired, quickly retreated once I walked in.  So, there I was!  In a new church with a very different scenario.

So, I had to spend around five years doing nothing but learning how to recruit, train, and equip volunteers.  It was very difficult and our church went through three pastors in that short amount of time.  The church membership transitioned up, then down, and there was a lot of tension to boot.  It literally took me upwards of 10 years to create, what I could safely say was, a solid team of equipped volunteers in children’s ministry.  Even today, there are some volunteers that have been consistently part of HUMC children’s ministries and continue to love it.  They are folks that I never have to worry about not showing up – they not only show up, but they are dedicated and put so much of themselves into what they do.  I am truly blessed to have them to work with!

Now to why I’m bringing this up.  I’m not the children’s minister anymore.  I’ve transitioned to a new arena – one of adult ministries and evangelism.  Instead of recruiting children’s Sunday school teachers and VBS workers, I’m recruiting hospitality volunteers and small group leaders.  I not only recruit, but I also equip and lead.  This is not an easy task because I find myself back in the same position I was in 14 years ago when arriving at HUMC – kind of starting from scratch.  I’m falling back in to a “doer” mode as I plan multiple small group studies this summer . . . all of which I’m leading.  When I really should be spending my time recruiting and equipping others to do that.

In Slaughter’s book, he talks about the “Priesthood of all Believers” in that we, as professionals, are not called to go out there and do all the work.  But, rather we are called to make disciples!  Slaughter uses a great analogy with Moses and the burning bush – basically, Moses was a prince of Egypt his first 40 years, then his career was to manage his father-in-law’s business.  Then the burning bush showed him his TRUE life purpose.  So, according to Slaughter, our goal as ministry professionals is to “assist people in the discovery of their burning bush and then throw gasoline on their life passion!”  Wow.  Am I doing that?  And, more importantly, am I doing that well?

About revmonica

I'm the Director of Growth Ministries at Williamsons Chapel United Methodist Church and the proud wife of Steve and mommy to Morgan and Gavin.
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