Building a Discipleship Culture that Volunteers Never Leave

This post was written by Sharon Rundell, a member of the INCM Blog team.

Let’s face it, we’ve had a rough year. Now, we see a light at the end of the tunnel; or, is it the middle of the tunnel? As things slowly shift once again, we are tasked with reopening, reimagining, and recruiting.

This includes one of the most difficult parts or our jobs in ministry, and also one of the most important – volunteers.

The question is, how do we create such an inclusive family feel to our volunteer teams that even if someone has to step away, they are still considered a part of your family?

Volunteers come to our teams with a variety of underlying motives, but most of all it is to be a part of something bigger, something that makes an impact, and somewhere they can find community.

I’ve had some success in this, but ultimately, it’s not my story to tell. The best way of doing ministry is to actually follow Jesus’ leadership style. Look back at the four gospels and see how Jesus did it.

1. Invite People into a Relationship

In the gospels, Jesus offers a relationship with himself and a vision to follow. As ministry leaders, we are to do the same thing: creating a relationship culture that has being disciples of Jesus at its center, and also inviting them into a relationship with yourself. You might be thinking, “I don’t have time to do that,” or “I have such a huge team! Being that involved with my team members just isn’t possible.” It’s possible, because Jesus did it. Everything is possible if you just start with one.

2. Onboard Them Well

Jesus’ leadership can be seen throughout the gospels in four stages. Because of this, I’ve been taught to use a leadership square to help me easily recall how best to usher team members into leadership.

  • Side 1: I do, you watch.
  • Side 2: I do, you help.
  • Side 3: You do, I help.
  • Side 4: You do, I watch.

What does it look like to onboard someone to your team well while walking them around this square? It’s as easy as following the steps above, and it doesn’t have to take long.

3. Leaders Growing Leaders

Keep looking at the Gospels. How did Jesus grow leaders? Jesus led leaders who then went on to lead others. That’s what being a disciple is in its most basic form. Enter a time in ministry where you disciple a few who then in turn disciple a few. Leaders growing leaders.

Jesus broke discipling/mentoring into smaller more manageable pieces. Jesus had the 72 followers that he taught and sent out. That was his largest circle beyond the regular crowds of followers. Then he had a more concentrated group of the 12 disciples. And even tighter than that, Jesus had an inner circle of three, Peter, James, and John.  Find your 3 and start there!

4. Look for Those on the Margins

Let’s look back at Jesus. Jesus noticed and invited into his group of disciples some of the most marginalized of all. Who is on the outside, just waiting to be invited to join in this amazing community you have created?

Conclusion

You were not called into this ministry on your own. Dream big! Ask God to do the impossible as you remember one of the most difficult parts of your job in ministry is also one of the most important – volunteers.


About Sharon

Sharon is the Family Life Director at Mill City Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She spends her days ministering to children, leading adult discipleship groups, as well as public speaking at adults and children’s events.  She and her husband Andrew will celebrate thirty years of marriage in December, and they are the proud parents of three emerging adult sons who still keep them on their toes!

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