[This is taken from a note I sent to two women in our fellowship who are coordinating volunteers to help with our fellowship activities]

You both have expressed to me that it’s been hard to get people to sign up for helping with the fellowship activities. I wanted to share some thoughts and ideas with you about all this that will hopefully encourage you–

First, I think of service as “Kingdom currency” – the more someone serves, the more they grow and contribute to the body of Christ and the richer they are spiritually. Serving is essential to spiritual growth. Our goal at MVFF — no matter how big we get — is to always have something for someone to do because that’s how they grow in their relationship with Jesus and others. I don’t think of it as “having enough people to get the stuff done,” but “having enough stuff to get the people done.” So, in asking people to serve, you’re actually doing them a favor. While it may be difficult for them initially, it will be invaluable to them (and become a way of life for them) long-term.

Second, the more people feel loved and cared for, the more likely they will be to serve. At this point, I think everyone feels loved enough that they would happy to help out in some way. However, if at first someone refuses to help, try spending a little more time with them. If you continue to get strong resistance from someone, though, please let me know. To me that evinces a deeper issue that we need to address.

Third, many people are not used to serving or do not have the “gift of service” (some people are just wired to help, like others are wired to teach). Regardless, because of how essential serving is to people’s spiritual health and because we aspire to be like Jesus who was the ultimate Server, I suggest you ask everyone in our fellowship to help with one or more of the fellowship activities. For example, take a list of every individual in the church and unapologetically ask them to take one of the service activities (e.g., “John, will you help with clean-up on the 20th, please?”) If someone says they can’t, then ask them if they can do something else. At this point, I recommend you don’t email the list of activities to the church or leave it out for people to sign — I think we need to take it to the next level and directly ask people. (My only caution is to wait until someone has been coming more than 6 weeks or has made an explicit commitment to our body before we plug them into a service activity. Serving our body is something that should be done by people who are in the body.)

Fourth, try to spread out the service activities across the fellowship. It’s tempting to give those who serve a lot more to do, but everyone needs a chance to serve (back to the idea of “getting the people done”). Conversely, don’t worry about burning people out. Give people opportunities to let you (or me) know whether they’ve got too much going on and need a break, but don’t try to run interference for them. Trust that they will tell you if it’s too much.

Fifth, don’t do alone what you can do with someone else. It’s easy to just trust ourselves to get the job done, but remember – it’s not about the job. So if there’s a task that you’re doing (like some of the fellowship activities that nobody has signed up for), invite 1-2 other people to do it with you. Not only does this create stronger relationship between you, it also gets them involved in serving and shows them how to do it so that in the future, they can do it with confidence on their own. For example, when you go to pick up lunch for a post-church activity, ask another woman in the fellowship to go with you. Or when you’re setting up for an event, ask a couple other people to help you and give them specific tasks to do.

Finally, your role of asking people to serve is one of great service too. It can be very uncomfortable, but it is very essential. I commend you both for taking on this role. Also, keep in mind that one of your goals is to work yourself out of a job. As you’re getting people to serve, try to identify others who could eventually take on your fellowship coordinating role and train them to do so. You then can pass on this act of service and move onto something bigger (If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. Luke 16:10).

I hope these thoughts are helpful, despite how long they are! I really didn’t expect to write a thesis on this! : D