One of the traps the enemy uses to marginalize leaders is envy. If I only had a bigger building. If I only had more staff. If I only had a bigger budget. The reality is that no matter how we don’t like to admit it none of us are immune from these thoughts. I know that I have struggled with each of these at different points in ministry. I remember having a conversation with a kids pastor who had less kids than we had and had 3 staff members to help. I left the call with this overwhelming feeling of frustration and discouragement. I remember actually breaking out a calculator adding up how many kids we had and what my staff to kids ratio should be.
It was on an Infuse call I asked Jim Wideman at what point is it reasonable to get help. Our church had grown and our kids ministry nearly tripled in a few months. Jim said I could use some help that having at least an assistant seemed reasonable but help never came like I expected it.
As things got busier for me I started to feel frustrated because I felt like I had help to add a lot to our church and wanted to do more but I couldn’t because I was the only person on staff as a children’s pastor at all of our campuses. I started to compare myself to other churches. I remember one time getting off the phone with a kids pastor who had as many kids as I had but had 3 staff members helping them. I found my comparison leading me to a place of frustration and the longer I stayed in that place of frustration the harder my heart became. I felt I had earned something, that I was owed something and that my pastor didn’t understand. In my comparison I had allow the enemy to do what he does best. He got me to thing things about myself, my pastor and my church that weren’t true. When that happens you are in trouble. I was in trouble.
I remember having a conversation with Brother Jim and him saying that if my church wasn’t going to hire staff to help I needed to create my own staff. I wasn’t sure what he meant. Jim went on to explain that if I couldn’t pay someone to work for me I needed to start treating some key volunteers like they work for me. That one idea changed everything. I “hired” a preschool person, a small groups person, a large groups person and a logistics person. We talked often and met weekly. I couldn’t pay them in money but I made myself available to them more than anyone else on my team. I prayed for them and poured into them. The result is we both grew. I now oversee one of the campuses at our church we pastor our church using some amazing staff level volunteers.
Why every person no matter what size their church is needs to have staff level volunteers
1. It increases your capacity. If forces you to lead, think and move forward outside of the box. Your church no matter what size can only sustain so many staff. Staff level volunteers are only limited by the capacity of those leading them. It pushes you to think about what is possible and not what do I have to do.
2. It’s biblical – The role of a pastor is not come watch me do. It’s to prepare and equip THE SAINTS to do the work of the ministry.
3. It makes you a better leader. – When I was young in ministry I was very good at leading myself but not so good at leading others. Leading a staff of volunteers helped me be a better boss to those I now lead who are paid staff members
4. It creates a culture that says “This is my church” rather than “this is the church I attend” – One of the most amazing unintended side effects of having a volunteer staff is I had more people helping to recruit volunteers than I had ever had in my life.
I love the local church and believe in it. I want our church and your church to be all it can be and I strongly believe it never will be that if you don’t learn to find, develop and release staff level volunteers.