Nigel Ring on July 29th, 2015

News from apostolic spheres in the Newfrontiers family of churches

In recent days I have, from time to time, given news updates from around the apostolic spheres of Newfrontiers as I have become aware of them. Here are some extracts from a recent newsletter from the Pacific Rim.

In UK summer holidays are upon us so this will be my last post for a few weeks.

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A Word from Peter Brooks…Peter Brooks (small)

I recently had the privilege of hearing John Maxwell speak on Leadership. Having enjoyed his book over the years, I can only say I loved him even more in the flesh. I think for me, his focus and passion on making Christ known was profound.

The thundering message that rattled through the arena in Sydney as he spoke was ‘People aren’t coming to church, so you must go to them!’ I know it is obvious but building bridges is key and engaging people where they are and bringing value to them as Jesus did must be a massive focus for all of us in these days.

I thank God for what has been built in the Pacific Rim so far but we have a long way to go and many nations to be reached and churches planted.

I was encouraged when a recognised prophetic minister, who I personally had never met picked me out of a crowd recently and basically ‘read my mail’ and encouraged me that God was going to see humble beginnings, multiply and multiply and multiply to the point where articles would be written concerning what had happened.

To be honest I cannot express to you how completely out of the blue and encouraging this word came. When the prophet asked, ‘does any of this mean anything to you’, I was almost speechless because of its accuracy.

God is good and I want you to believe like me that the best is yet to come for Newfrontiers Pacific Rim.

Spotlight on Phally Yeun in Cambodia

SONY DSCPhally is one of the very gifted leaders on the leadership team in Phnom Penh Cambodia.

1. How did God call you into leadership?
He called me by putting a desire to see changes/transformation in Cambodia for the current generation and the generations to come. I believe the best way to see such change is through the local church.

2. Are there any authors or preachers that have particularly influenced you?
Authors: John Maxwell (Books on leadership and people)

Preachers: Simon Brown, Terry Virgo

3. You have a whole day to yourself, what would you do with it?
I would play soccer for 24 hours and a half!

4. How is your church serving the community around you?
We have started to run a number of English classes which draws people into church and gives them a valuable skill which opens up job opportunities. We also run boats trips which are fun socials and pray for our community.

New Elders appointed in New Zealand and Philippines

Mike Irving writes:

It has been a real privilege to be a part of appointing elders in Christchurch, NZ and Manila, Philippines in the last few months. Travelling to both these churches with Pete Brooks and laying hands on 4 guys in each church has been very exciting, especially as I consider the quality of the guys we have appointed.

In Christchurch we laid hands on 3 Matt’s and a Paul – four very different guys, all with excellent wives, that will bring a great diversity of ministry to the church alongside the existing elders, Ken & Bob.

CC Elders

From left to right Paul & Janet Williams, Matt & Lesley Parker, Matt and Lucy Pratt, Matt and Louisa Walters

In Manila it was a joy to appoint 4 great Filipinos as elders – Eden, Ramon (Boy), Rodney & Armand. These guys have been developing as a team over recent years with their wonderful wives alongside them. Eldership teams are far from the norm in Filipino churches and so it has been particularly exciting to see this worked out in House of Grace. With the church building almost complete and incredible ministries happening in Taguig City and Santa Rosa, the church is poised to see real growth.

 Philippines Elders

From left to right Ramon, Mike, Rodney, Armand, Peter, Eden

Newday Philippines

180EncounterHew Nunn writes:

Encounter180 was the theme for Newday Philippines 2015 (hosted by our church in Manila). From the very start the atmosphere was electric. The 60 young people aged between 12-18 were so excited to gather and be in the presence of God.

35 came from the church in Taguig (an area within Manila), the rest from Santa Rosa which is a new outreach project. Many of those from Santa Rosa have only been saved a very short period of time so it was great to see more and more young people stepping out, bringing bible verses, prayers or words they felt God had placed on their hearts.

The morning and evening meetings looked at the theme of encountering God. These were followed up with ministry times, many being powerfully touched and some receiving the gift of tongues for the first time.

In the afternoon, it was too hot to be anywhere other than in the pool where we played all manner of games. The young people were determined to make everything lots of fun to be involved with.

What was very encouraging was the strength of the future leaders we saw coming through. Lots of the youth leaders and worship team demonstrated massive potential which is really exciting for what is to come. It was also good to see the joy in the church, the generosity of the people and their selfless approach to God.

Philippines Group Shot

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Nigel Ring on July 23rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 10.46.11We have been looking at ways of creating a fulfilling and positive experience for volunteers serving in the church.

Personal affirmation
As well as team activities there are things that can be done with only a little effort that will make a person feel appreciated. For instance, birthdays provide an annual opportunity to make someone feel special. A card gives the opportunity to express how much that person is appreciated not only for what they do but, even more important, for who they are. It is good to tell people that their lives have a positive effect on others; often people do not realise how others see them and they need commending. You can also add a box of chocolates or flowers to the card.

Training
Another way of showing appreciation is to offer to send a person on some sort of training programme. Training within the church is essential and non-negotiable – all volunteers should be equipped within the areas of service they function in. But it is also of great value for people to go to another context. Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 10.15.15This provides stimulation, networking opportunities and so on. For example, those who work with people who are poor or in need find great value in attending the annual Jubilee+ conference in the UK. People working in an area of ministry with the poor are often very passionate and somewhat tunnel visioned, so to go to an event where there are other like-minded people can be of great benefit.

There are also various training programmes available through other organisations for training volunteers, whether in the Christian or secular sphere. These could be in the areas of children’s ministry, helping those caught up in the sex industry, worship, event management etc. A little exploration on the internet will reveal many opportunities. It takes some effort but the investment of time will be more than repaid by the benefits resulting form such training opportunities.

Conclusion
In this short series I have sought to show the importance of mobilising volunteers in the life of the church. We have looked at what we mean by ‘volunteers’ and saw how we are in fact all part of God’s army to advance the Kingdom. I have then tried to give some tips on how to motivate and affirm people so that they enjoy the maximum fulfilment and satisfaction from their serving.

Jesus’ final command, the great Commission, was to go into all the world and make disciples (Matt 28:19). Serving in and through the church provides an invaluable vehicle for discipling people by developing their potential, training them in particular skills and strengthening their characters by building such characteristics as loyalty and reliability. May your church achieve great things as you promote a serving environment.

 

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Nigel Ring on July 15th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 10.46.11Often people are invited to serve as part of a team. The individuals may well be more diverse than would be the case in an employed environment as the reasons for volunteering are not entirely based on skills and ambition. I remember, for instance, visiting one church overseas and finding that the Deputy High Commissioner for the UK and his family were members of the church. I then observed how he and his wife served faithfully among the children on a Sunday, not too proud to be scrabbling around on the ground with young children getting covered in paint and glue! They knew what it was to serve humbly without seeking any acclaim from man. I am sure the Lord was pleased.

For such a couple to be led by local nationals would have been a big cultural statement and I am sure that effort must have been made by the church leaders to build a team in which this was possible.

A team acknowledges the strengths (and weaknesses) of other team members and seeks to complement the various giftings to the benefit of all. Where this is successful there is a bonding between members that is far stronger than merely working together.

Honouring
This bonding can be intentionally strengthened in various ways. First, and I feel most important, is honouring one another. It is so good to commend others publicly; it both builds up the individual and is also an example of community flowing together in a way that observers notice. I was reading recently in Is 60 how the nations would flow to the light of Israel. What was it they saw that could be described as ‘light’? Predominantly it was the Lord in their midst, but how was His presence manifest? There would have been many ways but, for this context, the love they had for one another would have been conspicuous and attractive. Seeing a team working together also helps mobilise others to serve as they desire to be part of such a company, as stated in part 1 of this series.

It is important for honouring also to happen in front of the whole church. Thank and commend those who successfully and sacrificially served a particular event, for example, perhaps staying until midnight to clear up the venue after everyone had returned home. Present flowers to someone who has served faithfully in a ministry for many years. These easy and apparently small gestures are so helpful in making people feel appreciated and energised to continue to serve.

Have fun!
Volunteers give their time and energy without demanding anything in response. But let’s be good at thoughtfully and intentionally giving some ‘perks’. For instance, we used to take all our trustees for a meal around Christmas as a way of saying ‘thank you’ for the many hours of faithful and diligent service they contributed to the healthy life of the church. Sometimes we would arrange a summer outing for both staff and key volunteers to enjoy a day out together. IMGA0007When the Together on a Mission leadership conferences ended in 2011 after about 20 years I had the joy of taking the team leaders out for the day to The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum (highly recommended!) which included a meal and some presentations. A little intentionality and thoughtful planning is always greatly appreciated and is a good investment into the future.

Next time we will look at other ways of encouraging people, including training.

 

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Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 10.46.11Last time we saw the importance of having clear definition of a role or task with agreed expectations. How do we ensure that these expectations are being met?

Accountability
A vital part of managing staff, whether paid or unpaid, is communication and support. There can be a tendency to ‘cast off’ a volunteer and let them ‘get on with it’, particularly in the midst of a busy schedule. But accountability is very important both for checking that progress is being made and to assure the individual of your commitment and interest. It also encourages reliability if someone knows that they are being monitored in a constructive way.

I once led a Stewarding Team in our church, many years before I served on the welcome team mentioned in part 3. I personally invited each member of the team to join me and assured them that I had asked them because I saw in them the gifting I felt was needed, typically in the areas of encouragement and hospitality. I had some pre-printed cards on which were written the particulars of the specific task for the day – maybe related to welcoming at the front door or stewarding in the meeting hall.

On occasion someone did not arrive for the appointed duty. What should I do? Ignore it and assume they had been busy? What if they had forgotten? Or perhaps they were ill? Seeing serving as an opportunity for someone to develop in their discipleship I felt that to take no action would be wrong. Here was an opportunity to enquire about their welfare – was stewarding putting a strain on family life etc? If, as was sometimes the case, they had forgotten or chosen to do something else it gave me the opportunity to point out that reliability is an important aspect of serving; failure to show up merely puts more pressure on other people. I did not see this as being ‘heavy’ but as an opportunity to help the individual to become a better person.

Listen
An important part of accountability is being able to listen. When helping to develop an individual it is not only important to bring encouragement (more about this later) and direction but also to get feedback and hear how things are going from their perspective.

When I appointed a member of staff I used to make sure that within 2-4 weeks I would have a review talk with them, being careful to listen. I would ask them how they were getting on and see if there were problems that could be resolved. I would also invite them to comment freely on any aspect of the ministry or working environment that they were in; often new people see things that we can grow blind to due to familiarity. So this gives an opportunity for making improvements by seeing a situation through fresh eyes.

I once appointed two members of staff at the same time and put them in a shared office. As I talked to them after a few weeks it was clear that something was not working well. It was only then that I realised that one was an external processor the other internal. While one wanted to talk out his ideas to help him think them through the other was, in effect, saying please be quiet so that I can think! The solution was to give them separate work areas and for me to be the foil for the external processor – I always believed in having my door open so that I was available to staff.

A similar principle applies to volunteers. They too can experience pressures of various sorts so it is important to give time and space to help them express these and to look for solutions together.

Next time we will look at team building.

 

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Nigel Ring on July 1st, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 10.46.11So 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?

Job descriptions
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

 

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Nigel Ring on June 25th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 10.46.11Some key aspects to motivating people are

  • Cause and Community
  • Encouragement
  • Affirmation
  • Satisfaction
  • Support
  • Resources

Last time we looked at the first two. Now let’s consider the others.

3. Affirmation
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.

4. Satisfaction
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.

5. Support
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.

6. Resources
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.

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Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 10.00.42

Another interruption to my ‘Mobilising volunteers’ series, but various things have come to my attention recently that I think will be of wider interest.

Ebola Update
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.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 10.09.00

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.

Jubilee+
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!

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 10.15.15Jubilee+ Conference 
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!

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Nigel Ring on June 10th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 10.46.11In 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
    • Encouragement
    • Affirmation
    • Satisfaction
    • Support
    • Resources

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.

2. Encouragement
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.

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Nigel Ring on June 3rd, 2015

screen-shot-2011-05-12-at-1711141
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?
Sam writes:image2
“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
- Leaflets
- Correspondence

image1“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.”

Contact
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.

Finally…
….please don’t just put this to one side but join in this important project. Why not act now?!

 

 

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Nigel Ring on May 27th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 10.46.11Last 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.

Vision
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.

Everyone involved
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. screen-shot-2014-05-27-at-151955(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.

Leadership responsibility
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.

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