There’s a big difference between a volunteer and a leader. Churches need both. In my work with hundreds of churches, I believe we’re getting better at involving volunteers, but we’ve still got a ways to go when it comes to involving leaders.
Here are three reasons you might struggle to involve high capacity leaders.
1. You’re trying to recruit in bulk.
You can invite a bunch of volunteers to take their first steps to service with a volunteer fair or a volunteer message. But if you want to engage leaders, you’ll need to take a more personal approach.
You can’t recruit leaders from the stage. Leaders won’t sign up at tables along with everyone else. They respond to personal invitations. So If you want to engage leaders, you need to identify them and personally invite them into the process. This is not efficient – it’s one on one.
2. You do not have a leadership culture.
I like to grow things in my backyard, but I don’t get a lot of sunlight back there. That makes it hard to grow flowers. However, I can grow Hosta, some Azaleas and ferns. The culture of my backyard is suited to shade-loving plants.
Your church has a culture, too. And if you don’t have a culture of leadership, leaders won’t thrive . You may have a culture where the pastors do everything, or where people aren’t trusted with decisions. If that’s the case, you’ve got to work hard to create a new and better culture. One where innovation and risk is valued. That’s the kind of culture that’s attractive to a leader.
3. You are not patient.
Leaders don’t want to be told how to do everything. They want freedom. That’s one of the things that makes them a leader. A volunteer needs clear directions, clear timelines and clear expectations, but a leader needs a little more freedom and some time to figure it out. Empowering leaders is messy and it will not go smooth. But if you’re patient, the rewards are worth it.
Have you seen the difference between leaders and volunteers? How is your church doing on each level?