Saturday, July 18, 2009

#35 Volunteerism

It has been said that in most organizations, 90% of the work is done by 10% of the people. This is far from true for white Christian churches- where 2% of the people do 100% of the work, and it's all thanks to volunteerism.

Volunteerism is the Bermuda Triangle of white Christian churches. You drift into it unwittingly, and you seldom find your way out. Prospective volunteers would be wise to be careful what they sign up for- one special music might land you as the anchor of the soprano section in the church choir, one lock-in
chaperone gig might designate you for assignment as youth group leader-for-life, and one errant cake could anoint you as committee chair of every bake sale until Jesus returns.

When a volunteer has been firmly entrenched in a position of authority for such a long time, standard practices and procedures are developed as THE way to do things, in an almost militant manner. When you're the 20 year tenured head of the decorations committee, and you've poured countless hours, your heart, and your soul into the general church decor, and you find yourself in the wake of some criticism because you placed a patriotic-themed floral bouquet on the church alter that happened to contain an American flag as part of a Memorial Day weekend, but the critics view this act as an unatural elevation of "country over Christianity," you need to squash this opposition with any means necessary. As president Theodore Roosevelt once
famously said,
"It is not the decor critic who counts: not the man who points out how the committee chair stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have decorated in a more Biblically-sound, and visually appealing manner. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood of volunteerism..."
Unfortunately, while the volunteer has always played a vital role in white Christian churches, there are some who theorize that the volunteer is actually an endangered species. This is perhaps due to a recent trend in which long-time volunteer positions are morphed into paid positions. Whereas volunteers used to get worked like rented mules, they are now worked like hired mules. There's a big difference.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

1 comment:

DoMoreGood said...

The 2% problem you so clearly illustrated isn't just for churches - schools, scout troops, rec sports teams - anywhere you find informal volunteer leaders, it's easy to find a very small number of people doing almost all the work.

We started to address just this problem and make it super easy to get more people involved. VolunteerSpot is a free and simple volunteer sign up tool (like Evite, but for juiced for volunteering). By making it easier to Ask for help, and super easy to Sign Up to help, we've increased participation and saved volunteer leaders volumes of time. We're helping organize Sunday School helpers, meals ministry, Altar and LEM, Church Band and Choir, summer service projects, VBS, festivals and more.

Please check us out at