So far in this series we have seen how fulfilment, satisfaction and motivation are key aspects of serving, particularly in a ‘volunteer’ (unpaid) capacity. But, just as in a paid job, management and accountability are essential for achieving satisfactory outcomes these are also true for the ‘volunteer’. So what are some of the key management or leadership features that will produce good results and a happy team?
Although a job description sounds a bit formal for a volunteer position its purpose is the same as for a paid role – a clarity of expectation. As leaders it can be very frustrating if we delegate a job and then find that it has not been completed to a satisfactory standard or in the way we had intended. Whose fault is that? Ours! There will be a direct correlation between the detail with which we spell out what we are expecting, be it an individual task or a total job role, and fulfilment of our expectations. It is frustrating for both parties if, when, say, a task has been completed the ‘manager’ is clearly not satisfied, even if the one doing the task thinks he or she has done a really good job.
When appointing staff I liked to define a job profile and then ask the new staff member to write their suggested detailed job description. If I prescribed too tightly what was wanted in the way of practice I would have been imposing my thoughts too strongly on someone whom I had appointed as they had the gifting that I did not have – that was why I had employed them! Because they are gifted they will think of things I would never have thought of. It also helps bring ‘ownership’ to the role.
It is then important to discuss and agree this job description in order to be sure that the mutual expectations are the same. This also applies to the ‘volunteer’ role. There is little benefit in my creating a team of children’s workers and then telling them how to do it. They are the experts; I am not. But the broad goals and expectations must be agreed.
For how long?
When a staff member is appointed a contract will state the length of the contract and the ways in which it can be terminated by either party. Clearly a ‘volunteer’ post differs, but the general principles are the same. Some suggested time frame can be very helpful. Include a trial period when both parties can see if things are progressing well. Make it clear that, after that, there will be at least an annual review when someone can walk away from the role without any sense of failure or having let anyone down. Remember, people are giving their time freely and this can impinge on other aspects of life eg family time. People should not feel that if they volunteer they have been handed a life sentence and will be expected to continue to serve in a particular role until the Lord comes again!
Next time we will look at accountability and feedback
Some key aspects to motivating people are
- Cause and Community
Last time we looked at the first two. Now let’s consider the others.
Affirmation is first cousin to encouragement; as we affirm people we are saying ‘I believe in you’. A little affirmation and encouragement goes a long way. By bringing affirmation you are demonstrating that the person’s effort has been noticed and appreciated, and appreciation is a key part of the motivation recipe. People rarely look for any other reward if appreciation has been expressed for who they are and what they have done.
How often do you reach the end of the day feeling ‘what was that all about?’ Or conversely, how often feeling ‘that was a really good day’? These polarised positions are the extremes of some sort of satisfaction-scale. Part of a ‘why do we exist?’ consideration is to do with how we spend our time. If we feel we have made a contribution to some cause, the betterment of society or the fulfilment of a dream we have the feeling of satisfaction. This is something that we want to repeat and drives us on to greater exploits. So satisfaction is an important part of feeling motivated.
A manager’s job is not just to delegate but to support those in his or her care in what they are doing. Getting alongside someone who is working for you and giving them the support they need is vital to getting the job done and reduces the feeling of being inadequate for the task. This includes giving them time to express how they feel and how they are getting on. Also for them to express any frustrations or need for help, whether physical, practical, emotional or in an area of training. Indeed, providing training, whether in-house or external, is a great motivator as it demonstrates your willingness to invest in the volunteer and up-skill him.
In any job it is vital to have the right tools and resources. Sometimes it is tempting to think that a volunteer does not need the same level of resources, particularly those that save time, as his time does not cost you money. However, idleness or inefficiency may carry a greater cost – the loss of the volunteer continuing to serve. Frustration is a great de-motivator.
Next time we will look at some more aspects of managing volunteers.
Another interruption to my ‘Mobilising volunteers’ series, but various things have come to my attention recently that I think will be of wider interest.
There was a very positive response to the appeal in recent months to help people in Liberia, Sierra Leona, Guinea and Nigeria through our churches. John Hammond, who worked hard to coordinate the appeal, has produced an excellent update. If you wish to have a copy please contact me or John.
Pacific Rim Newsletter
In recent weeks I have published brief reports from various Newfrontiers apostolic spheres. This Newsletter came to me recently from The Pacific Rim, led by Peter Brooks, and gives some encouraging reports from Australia, New Zealand and Cambodia.
Two weeks ago I had the enjoyable privilege of meeting with a group of passionate men and women who work hard to help Newfrontiers churches in the UK to engage with those who are poor or in need in their communities. It was stimulating to hear of ministries from around the UK which are clearly having a major impact. If you do not already subscribe to the regular email updates I urge you to do so by visiting the website. This website is full of resources and up to date information – well worth browsing!
On October 17th Jubilee+ holds their annual conference, this year in East Grinstead. Book early to take advantage of the reduced fee! I urge all who are involved in ministries with the poor to attend.
Note to Church Leaders – this is an excellent way of training your ‘volunteers’ and also giving them an opportunity to fellowship with like-minded people. Why not pay for them all to go? Your church would greatly benefit when they return!
In the world people are paid for their work. The higher the pay the greater the motivation. Wrong! Although people should be paid a fair wage for a fair day’s work a wage increase is, for most people, only a short term reward and recognition of effort and responsibility. It does not motivate in a healthy way, though it might motivate towards greater materialism as witnessed in recent years with the banking scandals.
Motivation comes from an internal drive, the feeling that what we are doing is worthwhile and has value, often in benefitting others. For this to happen the fruit of our labours should be seen and affirmed. Few things are less motivating than when our hard work goes un-noticed. Volunteers are not paid so this fact is particularly important to understand if you have responsibility for mobilising and managing people.
Here is a list of some keys that help people to be motivated:
- Cause and Community
1. Cause and Community
In introducing this series I stated that it would be about ‘people who are willing to give of their time and energies sacrificially for the sake of a cause they believe in’. Deep down we all want to leave the world in a better state than the one in which we find it. One of the major philosophical questions is ‘What is the meaning of life?’ I don’t intend to enter into a discourse here (you will be relieved to hear) but most people feel that helping raise people’s quality of life in some way, particularly for Christians to find an eternal purpose, is a very fulfilling and rewarding way to spend our energies.
Most people also want to feel involved in some form of community. We were not designed by God to be isolates. So if we are able to spend significant amounts of our time working with others we like and respect, while also pressing forward to a worthwhile goal, we shall be very fulfilled and motivated.
Most people thrive on encouragement. That is why ‘encouragement’ is a spiritual gift – it reflects the heart of God and is one of the ‘tools’ he gives us to build one another up. Sadly, we often hear of people who are faithful servants in their workplaces but report that no-one ever seems to notice how hard and diligently they work. This can kill motivation. In contrast we sometimes hear stories where people have laid down their lives for their leader, sometimes literally, or have ‘gone the extra mile’ because he or she had demonstrated servant-leadership in the way he had cared for his team. You can be sure that such a leader is an encourager. Encouragement produces a positive response.
Next time we will continue to look at this list of motivational keys.
I will continue my series on Mobilising Volunteers next week but this week I want to share about an exciting Newfrontiers project and ask for you help.
An initiative has been launched to archive Newfrontiers material from around the world. This has arisen from closing the Newfrontiers office in Hove in 2011, requiring storage of a great deal of material, and the subsequent desire of Sam Jeffery, a member of King’s Church, Catford, to study for a Ph D, with the archiving of this material as a core part. So we are now looking for any material that can help fill out this archive, whether from the UK or other nations. This will be stored safely and become available in due course for researchers and so on.
What is wanted?
“The Newfrontiers archive project seeks to gather historical material pertaining to Newfrontiers from its early years as a handful of churches relating to Terry Virgo to the final Together on a Mission Conference in 2011. The aim is for the archive to be stored at a recognised repository where it can facilitate new research on Newfrontiers and other charismatic movements. I am currently looking to gather additional material that people may have stored away somewhere, including, but not restricted to:
- Recordings of sermons and conference sessions
- Worship albums from conferences
- Video footage from conferences/events/mission trips
- Photos from mission trips
- Printed materials such as conference handbooks and songbooks
“If you have any historical material relating to Newfrontiers and its activities that you would consider donating please do get in touch. Even if what you have does not fall into one of these categories please let me know – historians are increasingly inventive in their research so do not rule anything out as of no value! The archive is particularly lacking in material from the Downs and early Stoneleigh Bible weeks, and I am also seeking things which allow greater insight into the views and beliefs of Newfrontiers members based outside the UK. However any contribution would be greatly appreciated.
“If what you have does not relate to Newfrontiers but to other charismatic streams and events, like the Dales Bible Week, I would also be very interested in this.
“All material that is of a sensitive and/or personal nature is being redacted (with guidance of senior members of the Newfrontiers team) for a minimum period of 30 years. If you have items that you would like to contribute but are concerned about the sensitivity please do let me know.”
If you do have any material of any sort please email Sam Jeffery with a brief description of what you have. He will then explain how to send it to him.
….please don’t just put this to one side but join in this important project. Why not act now?!
Last year I wrote at length in this blog about serving in the church and gave guidance about the course Discover and Serve. There is also a book of the same name. Please read that for more detail about how to help someone develop a Serving Profile.
In this series I am addressing the issue of volunteering from the perspective of a leader – how to mobilise volunteers. So far we have looked at what ‘volunteer’ means. Now we shall consider some of the practical day-to-day matters about identifying and managing a volunteer team within the church.
In Prov 29:18 we read ‘Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law’ (ESV). Written in the context of the fruit of wickedness (v16), the disciplining of a son (v17) or management of a slave (v19) this verse emphasises the importance of each of us having direction and purpose if our lives are to be fulfilling and we are to realise our potential.
Vision is key to fulfilment
If we do not feel we are going anywhere life becomes very mundane. As has been said ‘if you aim at nothing you are sure to hit it!’ When we, as church leaders, seek to motivate people and see them stretched in their gifting in order to fulfil their God-given potential it is vital that we give them a sense of direction and purpose. If people just serve out of a sense of duty or guilt, or even because they feel sorry for the leader when he gets no response to a request for help, they will never be fully satisfied. I shall write more about motivation in a later blog but it is so important that we constantly keep vision in front of people provided it is tangible and attainable, not just a vague generalisation.
Until recently I had the privilege of being a member of Church of Christ the King (CCK) in Brighton, a church that attracted about 1300 people on a Sunday and met across four sites. 60-70% of the people served the Sunday meetings, either in a high-profile way (preaching, leading worship etc) or in a less conspicuous but no less important way, welcoming at the front door, teaching the children etc. These people were often on a rota of, say, one Sunday in four. As such the commitment was not too burdensome (many had very highly demanding jobs or were home-based, fully committed to raising Godly families) but, provided the ‘match’ between gifting and serving opportunity was good, they felt fulfilled. (The Serving Profile in Discover and Serve can help achieve this). Others, of course, served in various ways during the week – trustees, finance, office work, and so on. Thus the vast majority of the church members were actively involved.
Personally, I served on the ‘welcome’ team on a Sunday, looking out for visitors and helping make them feel secure and at home in our midst. I enjoyed meeting people and learning about them, as well as helping them to know what the church was about. I was also a trustee and at different times was involved in a host of other activities, often from an administrative perspective since this reflected my gifting.
A leader’s responsibility is to mobilise the army – and in the army there are no passengers. While some may need to be having wounds dressed for a season and at that time cannot be on active service, the aim is to get all soldiers active and functioning in their skill set as quickly and effectively as possible. So seeing people healed, where necessary, and mobilised are key responsibilities of a leader towards his people.
Next time we will look in more detail about how to motivate a volunteer team.
Last time we saw how the word ‘volunteer’ often has the associations of ‘charity’, such as helping those who are in need, or of ‘essential service’, such as the volunteer reserves in the armed forces. Both these aspects can be found in the Bible.
In the Old Testament translations there are several occasions where ‘volunteer’ is used (more in the NASB than in the ESV, which I normally quote from).
Ps 110: 3 ‘Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power…’ (ESV), ‘…volunteer freely…’ (NASB)
Judges 5:2 (Song of Deborah and Barak) ‘That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly…’ (ESV), ‘…the people volunteered…’ (NASB).
Judges 5:9 ‘My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people…’ (ESV), ‘My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel, the volunteers among the people…’ (NASB)
Neh 11:2 ‘And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem’. (ESV) ‘And the people blessed all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem’. (NASB)
All these references refer to major issues where people make a freewill choice; to fight alongside others, to conform to a governmental structure, etc. None is ‘charitable’ but all refer to a person’s personal decision or choice to become involved in a particular way, similar to those who volunteer to become part of a disciplined army or emergency service in our generation.
In the New Testament we do not find the word ‘volunteer’ as such, but there are many occasions on which people give themselves to serving one another willingly, including in ‘charitable’ ways. The Kingdom mandate of Is 61:1-3, quoted by Jesus about himself in Lk 4:18-19, focuses on his calling to serve those who are poor; this scripture surely also applies to the church, his body now on earth. Other examples are plentiful (eg Matt 25:31-46, Jas 2:14-24, Heb 13:1-3).
Army and Charity
Combining these two perspectives – ‘army’ and ‘charity’ – how might this apply to us? In the Old Testament examples people ‘offered themselves freely’. But we live in a different dispensation so should expect even more than this freewill decision. There is ‘added value’ for us. What is it?
We have been amazingly and wonderfully saved by and daily benefit from the sacrificial love of Jesus who willingly abandoned his rightful place at the right hand of the father to become a servant (Phil 2:5-8) for our sake. And in doing so he totally subjected his will to the father.
As we become Christians we are drafted into the army of God. In any army there is discipline and the necessity to work together with colleagues under the authority of the officers in charge. We may not be paid and to that extent we are volunteers, but we know that we have been saved for purpose, and if we are to fulfil that purpose we submit ourselves willingly to him and follow his direction, just as a volunteer in the armed forces submits himself to the direction of the leaders. What a privilege!
It’s for our sanctification!
Once that decision has been made we come under the leaders’ authority with all the discipline and obedience that implies. That does not guarantee an easy ride. Discipline is sometimes hard. The soldier who decides not to get out of bed in the morning for parade would not enjoy duvet-comfort for long! Nor should we if we commit to serve, say, on a Sunday rota and don’t ‘turn up’. But as we trust the leaders of the church, who lead the church to serve God’s vision and have our best interests at heart, we can serve with joy and fulfilment even if, at times, we don’t really want to. Such service is part of our sanctifying process; it gives us the opportunity to become more like Jesus who always did what the Father told him.
Next time we shall begin to look at some of the practical matters related to ‘volunteering’ in the church.
People seem to have appreciated my recent updates from around the Newfrontiers spheres with whom I have contact. I have recently heard from Guinea and think that, following ebola and my appeal for sponsorship for school children, this would be of interest. Thank you to all who helped with the ebola appeal and who have offered to sponsor a child. We do still need more sponsors – £10/month. Can you help? If so click here to request details.
Newsletter from Nicolas Thebault
Last week I was in a taxi driven by a 77 year old chauffeur! This person explained to me as we were returning home that the new drivers do not know how to drive and the new police officers do not know the driving code because everyone buys their driving license without taking the test. The funniest thing was that at that moment he was on the wrong side of a ramp on the motorway crying and hooting the horn so that everyone would let him pass!
It is a little bit the same thing with the Ebola crisis! The weekend when a doctor we know told us that there are no more cases of Ebola in Guinea, the authorities closed the frontiers with Sierra Leone and announced a state of sanitation emergency for 45 days. It is always difficult for us to understand what is happening even after living here for 12 years.
Since our last newsletter in November and up to the reopening of the schools on 19th January (instead of the 3rd October) we have been living through some difficult months; we could not pay the salary of our 30 teachers. But God is faithful! Someone who recognised this decided on their own back to do some different actions in their village in England to send us a sum of money as a Christmas present, to all our teachers who had not been paid since the end of October. They received two thirds of one month’s salary. They are still talking about it!
The Jubilee School has been able to do the work asked for by the authorities who then recommended us to UNICEF because of the serious way in which we applied these measures of prevention against the spread of Ebola.
We have been able to reopen our doors on the 19th January and we have 329 pupils registered at Conakry, 70 at Koukoudé. Without your help and all your prayers this would never have been possible.
On the behalf of everyone here, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.
Rom 5:6 When we were still powerless, Christ died for us.
Departure for the BECE (equivalent to the ‘O’levels)
Because of Ebola, the exams were postponed since last July. On Monday 23rd March, we learnt that the exam would finally take place on Monday 30th March in Sierra Leone. As Authorities had decreed a curfew on everyone from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th there was the necessity to organise in three days the voyage for the 30 pupils. 20 got on the 9 seater bus with Maina, the Principal. The other 10 followed the next Monday since their tests were only starting on Thursday2nd April. Then, everything got really complicated when Guinea then decided to close its frontier with Sierra Leone without any warning on the Monday morning!
Finally after lots of adventures, and after many prayers and the intervention of someone in the embassy of Sierra Leone, they succeeded in crossing the border on the Tuesday evening with 10 pupils who could take their exam on time. We hoped they would be able to return to Conakry one day (they actually did without any trouble!!).
Despite all the difficulties, Maina above with her two children (extremes of the left photo) and Auntie (far right) maintain the vision of the school:
An education for all in an atmosphere of love and respect
Light of the Nations Church
Although I had expressed to God my despair at all the situations we have had to face since the beginning of January, God really spoke to me through Numbers11: 11 – 17. Without going into details, we received the promise that everyone would have enough to eat, if we the elders delegate our work even more and train a new generation. Since we put this into practice our situation, particularly financial, has completely changed in three months. Because of the initiatives of John Hammond, Sam Amara, Martyn Dunsford, Nigel Ring, David Nunn, the churches of Paris and Lyon, and many others, we see once again that God is providing for all our needs. We have a very large sum of money to pay for the lease of the land for the next 12 years, the land on which we must build before June 2017.
BREAKING NEWS STOP – BREAKING NEWS STOP – BREAKING NEWS
Former student killed
The runner (in colour) on the photo, one of our former Jubilee pupils, was shot & killed on the 13th April whilst he was protecting a shop which was being looted after demonstrations regarding the presidential elections scheduled for the the middle of October. He had left the school last year.
The demonstrations started again recently with deaths, injuries and again more disorder in the country. The families have not been sending their children to the Jubilee School for these last two weeks following all these problems. Pray for the protection of all the members of the church and for Jubilee.
The practical energy of the local church comes through the membership. Where else can one find a body of such committed, passionate and unified people who are willing to give of their time and energies so sacrificially for the sake of a cause they believe in? We are a privileged people when we are part of such a living vibrant community of focussed and purposeful individuals.
This passion is perhaps first felt in the early church where we see the way they lived together in Acts 2. Immediately after being filled with the Spirit at Pentecost, the church’s birth day, we find that the people ‘devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers’ (Acts 2:42). This sentence embodies the very essence of the church, the non-negotiable minima. These four elements – teaching, fellowship, remembering and celebrating the Lord’s death and resurrection, and direct communion with God our Father – in large measure define what a ‘church’ is and does. But who are the church?
We are a community of people, both local and worldwide, who have been created and chosen from before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4) ‘for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them’ (Eph 2:10). Paul goes on to teach us that we are all members of the body, each having a role to play, and as we do so, and work in harmony with others, the body grows healthily (Eph 4:16). He does not differentiate between paid and unpaid members of the church. He talks about every member having a place
Most people in the church are not paid by the church – they are, as the world would say, ‘volunteers’. But let’s unpack that word. ‘Volunteer’ carries implications which may be counter to some of the ways in which the Bible sees them. What are some of the words and phrases we would associate with ‘volunteer’? Here are a few: Charity, Unpaid, Good cause, Do good, Free labour, Spare time. However, in the UK, and I am sure elsewhere, it is not only the charity-type words that are associated with ‘volunteer’; it is also used for some ‘essential services’ eg Volunteer Reserves (a part of the armed services), The Lifeboat Institute, The Fire Service. These all rely heavily on volunteers to supplement their paid staff in front line roles, often facing danger and emotional challenges.
I feel it is these latter people who more closely equate with what Paul is teaching about how the church should function, people who are mobilised as a working force rather than the cosy words associated with charities. Such an environment carries other word associations – discipline, training, structure, clear lines of authority etc, in contrast to the ‘take it or leave it’ options often associated with charity volunteers demonstrated by those who may be on a rota and yet do not feel a great obligation to turn up if some alternative arises. There is probably real and substantial ‘middle ground’ between these two extreme models – ‘charity’ and ‘essential services’ – but I trust that highlighting these extremes will cause you to think in greater depth about how you view ‘volunteer’ in the context of the church.
Next time we will look to see what the Bible says about volunteers.
Here is another update from one of the Newfrontiers apostolic spheres.
Recently I was privileged to join the leaders of 14 churches in the UK as they met in Crewe for two days with Steve Oliver. Steve is from South Africa though now living in Dubai where God’s favour has been on him to strengthen and grow the church he joined 5 years ago and to plant another two churches from there. He also travels widely bringing oversight to churches on five continents. His apostolic sphere is called Regions Beyond.
The days together began with worship and prophetic outpouring. God quickly told us that there was a path laid with flagstones for us to walk into new places and nations. This was emphasised by a prophecy using the fact we were near Crewe – a major hub of the national railway – which told us that we were to plant into significant cities. This was confirmed by an email Steve had received within the previous hour from Dubai with an almost identical word based around the town of Crewe.
In the following sessions Steve laid out something of his own history and walk with God including dreams he has carried:
- Diverse churches with common vision for the world
- Apostolic people group caring for far off Islands
- Each community feeling included and important
- People with conscious bias towards one another’s success
- Wonderful local churches to impact communities
- Hundreds of sons and daughters capable and willing to count the cost and plant churches around the world
He shared how he feels the starting gun is being fired for this to come about (although much is already happening!). For instance, he referred to Colin and Pam Nichols going imminently from UK to Bloemfontein to plant a church, a location Steve has carried in his heart for many years. Later we had the opportunity to pray for Colin and Pam.
Steve spoke of other churches also being planted: Durbanville in South Africa would be launched within two days of our conference, Edenbridge in UK to be a ‘church planting church’, Maseru in Lesotho, Mauritius, Eritrea…. The list went on.
Steve also updated us on his own position. He has now passed on leadership of the church in Dubai to others in order to give himself to the wider ministry – even he is human and became very over-stretched last year.
Raising up leaders
Sharing from Numbers 11 he spoke of the urgent need to raise up more leaders and of his plans to launch a Task Team (one of several) led by Gareth Wales to develop a programme of training.
Strategically he is defining the churches he oversees into geographical hubs, following the advice he has received from David Devenish, who is implementing such a structure within his own sphere, Catalyst.
The days ended with further prayer, particularly for those who are going out to plant churches, and also for Burundi which is going through serious unrest as a nation pending elections at the end of June. This unrest is hindering the advance of the gospel; 1 Tim 2:1, 2 encourages us to pray for the authorities so that the church might live in peace.
These are just headlines through my personal recollection of these days away. Now listen to Steve himself as he spoke to me about some of the things on his heart. (I apologise for some glitches on the soundtrack.)