The always outstanding Call & Response blog calls attention this month to a creative idea suggested by Pastor Dan Pezet:
Expiration dates for volunteers.
Sometimes we put someone in a position and leave them there until they are used up. When volunteers are excited about doing good work for God, they begin like a freshly struck match. Their flame and energy are intense. Too often, though, we leave them burning in one spot for so long that their flame can sputter and die. Expiration dates can protect us from burning out volunteers.
Rotating fresh people into positions can achieve maximum effectiveness. Baseball coaches know how many pitches their pitchers can throw before they start getting tired. They have a whole crew of pitchers that they rotate in to keep them fresh and effective. Rotating volunteers in the church setting is just as important. It keeps the ideas fresh and the energy level high.
Great insight–do you have time for one more?
What happens if instead of thinking of volunteers as loaves of bread or baseball pitchers we envision them as cells growing to full maturity in a vibrant, growing organism or living stones being smithed into a spiritual house?
The Scripture tends to favor the cells/stones analogies over the bread/baseball ones, portraying discipleship as a process that occurs along a trajectory with the disciple growing (corporately along with other disciples) to fullness in Christ.
Term limits and rotations, on the other hand, suggest not a trajectory but a circle, with a more modest set of goals–like keeping people “active.”
What if instead of putting volunteers in positions and setting the oven timer we create a personal growth plan for each volunteer and openly and explicitly portray each step in that plan not as a self-contained island but rather as part of an cobblestone path that leads to fullness in Christ?
That’s the idea that undergirds Whole Life Offering Principle 8:
Our offering in each work of mercy begins with Participation (in projects), progresses into Engagement (where the offering becomes a normative part of our Christian life), and matures into Ownership (as we call others into Participation).
(Did I mention that this idea of volunteers growing to fullness in Christ is the subject of The Whole Life Offering, my new book that comes out next week that is available wherever books are sold on amazon.com? Did I mention that this is Shameless Plug Week?)
So when it comes to volunteers, let’s move beyond thinking of a rotation to the idea of a screw being turned into wood: it doesn’t just go around in circles, but with each revolution it goes deeper.
In that way we replace the concept of expiration with the more biblical category of maturation.