This week our church is moving into a brand-new building in anticipation of a campus move in just a few weeks. It’s the first from-the-ground-up project we’ve undertaken since 1962, so you could say that the learning curve is steep. (Also: city permits. Let’s talk about that sometime.)
Last night we unloaded two trailers’ worth of supplies that have been ordered and accumulated over the last few months. Dozens of volunteers turned out to lift, carry, unbox, inventory, inspect, and assemble those supplies. Over the next few nights and weeks, dozens more vols will show up to label, organize, stock, and clean the building prior to launch weekend.
At the end of night one, I asked our volunteer coordinator how many of the load-in team were a part of his regular weekend crew. He grinned and said, “I’m not sure I could tell you who a lot of these people are or what they do.” I pressed him a bit: no really, how many of these people aren’t serving on a regular basis?
His answer: roughly half.
Roughly half of the volunteers who came out on a muggy, rainy night to unload a couple of trailers don’t serve in any other spot. Roughly half of them aren’t engaged in ongoing ministry as a part of a volunteer team. Roughly half haven’t responded to a call to serve on the kids team or students team or guest services team or any other team.
And yet there they were. Lifting. Carrying. Unboxing. Assembling.
I chewed on the roughly half number on the way home. Here’s what I think is true of our half, and what may be true of your church as well:
- There are people in your congregation who may not feel comfortable picking up a baby, but they’re happy to pick up a box.
- You have folks in the pew who don’t want to commit to a never-ending volunteer stint, but they’d be glad to commit to one night.
- There are plenty who will respond to the excitement of something new, and raise their hand if it means getting in on the ground floor.
- There are potential volunteers who are interested in serving, but don’t know if they have the gifts or skills required to do what is asked of them.
Last night I saw roughly half who were smiling as much as they were sweating, doing ministry with a screwdriver and a drill, getting to know other people and getting known by other people, taking a step towards involvement, and using their gifts in a practical, helpful, targeted way.
Who are we leaving out of ministry opportunities, simply because we make ministry look like singing or nursery duty or helping guests find a seat?
Who are the people who just need a hammer?