Volunteering- Pt 2

Training Volunteers (aka Vs) is an essential part of a successful organization, outreach, or project.

As an FRG leader I love that training is built in and required before picking up a phone and officially being a key caller or before being handed a checkbook as the treasurer. As the Ministry Director of our church I struggle with the best way to train our already exhausted when they walk in the door volunteers who sometimes want nothing more then to be a “butt in the chair.” I have to say I detest filling chairs with nothing but butts. I find it a waste of everyone’s time and energy.

So I’m working on a way to train most effectively these “butts in the chair” into becoming passionate Vs pursuing God’s calling in their lives through service in the church, community and in building relationships. What I want to be able to communicate is that when we are passionate about God’s love, when we truly grasp His calling on our lives, a lack of sleep and an over full schedule will not hinder us from the vision that God has placed in our hearts.

When I am at my lowest, when I’ve hit the loneliest scariest places in my life, it is through outreach and service that I have found healing.

When Katie was diagnosed with Cancer at 6 months old my world fell apart. My vision for missions and for serving in the church vanished. For the next few months all I could think about was the why’s and the how’s. Why did this happen to us? How were we going to continue on? Then St. Jude Children’s Hospital gave us a way to reach out. They sent Katie on this crazy mission to be Chili’s spokesperson for their 2007 September fundraisers. Chili’s had committed to give St Jude millions of dollars over the course of 10 years (sorry I don’t remember the exact amount I just remember it was hunormous). In the midst of every other week trips to St Jude for doctor visits Katie and our family embarked on a fundraising adventure. There were professional photo shoots, dad and Katie’s picture featured in Wall Street Journal in a full page spread, a trip to New York to be on Good Morning America, and the chance to present an $8, 201,975 check to St Jude from Chili’s.

Our picture is on the wall at St. Jude. Ok really it is a picture of John and Ian but behind him you can see Katie’s feet dangling and the bottom of my skirt.

Suddenly it was no longer about why this was happening to us. It became how can I give back to this amazing hospital that saved my child’s life and the lives of our new friend’s children as well. We were given a purpose and a chance to heal.

The church offers the same. Life is hard, but when we stop focusing on the whys and hows of it happening to us and focus instead on the healing and love that Christ has offered us suddenly we find purpose. We love because Christ first loved us! Perhaps the first step in training volunteers for the church is to just get them to see how much Christ loves them and then naturally it will flow out into acts of love for others.

So for now I’m stepping back and developing a specific training program for the needs of our church. I’m holding off on starting a Wednesday night Children’s Ministry, not because it’s not needed, but because until I can adequately train and pass on the passion I have for this ministry then the program will fall flat. I love the advice given at Training of Church Volunteers for Ministry and I’m looking for alternative approaches to training to fit into our busy lives. I would love to hear suggestions from you: books, online courses, skype meetings, or pre-recorded sessions you can view in the comfort of your home are a few of the ideas floating around in my head.

A side note to families: To ensure the future of a giving culture it is important to train a child early on on the importance of giving back to the community. If you are wondering how to nurture a volunteer spirit into your children check out this article, How Should I Begin: Growing Kids Who Care. Recently, I stumbled upon a mission organizations called Good Goers whose purpose is to send out families on mission trips. I can’t think of a better way to spend a week together! I love this group and what they are doing and hope to take my children (once the youngest is 5) on one of the trips. To view all of their upcoming trips go to goodgoers.com For now I’m planning to take my kids to the Mustard Seed and Peanut Kids Camps at Teen Missions International where they will learn all about world missions and have the opportunity to serve in Merida, Florida.

Whether we are giving of our time, finances, or posessions we need to remember that nothing was ever our’s to begin with. “God owns everything. You and I own nothing. All I think I “own” anyway I “owe” (I only “own” the mortgage). The best things about Len Sweet are not what I am able to give, but what I have already received. This has perhaps never been expressed in community life better than the membership commitment of The Church of the Saviour in Washington, D.C.  “I commit myself, regardless of the expenditures of time, energy, and money to becoming an informed, mature Christian. I believe that God is the total owner of my life and resources. I give God the throne in relation to the material aspect of my life. God is the owner. I am the ower. Because God is a lavish giver I too shall be lavish and cheerful in my regular gifts.”” Leonard Sweet in Freely You Have Received, Freely Give 

What are ways you volunteer? What ways would you like to receive training as a volunteer? If you lead volunteers what are some ways you have found in effectively training?

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