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A (mini) Rant About (the lack of) Volunteering

 —  June 5, 2014 — 4 Comments

“I mean, come-on. Can’t someone step up?” This was the sentiment expressed to me recently by a small church youth leader who was looking for volunteers. Not for the mission trip. Not for summer camp chaperones. Not for VBS. Not for any major ask like that. They were looking for drivers to drive the 17 members of the church’s youth mission team…to the bus stop in the next town over. It would have taken 4-5 vehicles/drivers about 75 minutes round trip, yet the drivers didn’t come. Come on – really?

Recruiting volunteers is a struggle everywhere. I get it. People are busy, but who isn’t? And I know there’s a flip-side: Churches don’t always step up to give volunteers what they need to succeed.

But if I hear the following things again, I may scream:

1) “I can’t volunteer to teach Sunday School. I’d never give up my own Sunday School class.” Maybe there’s a different way to look at it. If you want that adult class to continue to thrive, maybe it’s worth the investment to make sure there’s still going to be a Sunday School in 10 years at your church by helping out now. Even 1X a month would mean you’d be in your class 3X a month.

2) “I’ve done my time. My kids are grown. I need to step aside and ‘let’ someone else have a turn.” So church members in their 50’s+ are exempt? When their kids graduate from high school, the parents get to turn in their “pitch-in” card? The opposite is true. When our kids have grown up, it’s even a better time for us to do our part to pass on the torch of Christ. Sure, we’re not as young as we used to be…but we’re smarter than we used to be. Sure we’re tired…but we haven’t been chasing toddlers all day or running the neighborhood taxi service.

3) “Its someone else’s turn. Let them do it. I mean, where are the parents of all these neighborhood kids?” I think many of those disconnected parents are waiting to see what happens. For many of them, this isn’t their first church rodeo. They rode the ride for a while, but the bull threw them off. The fact that those disconnected parents’ kids are back in church is the chance for us to have a “do-over.”

I could go on, but I won’t. The facts are that it’s summer and every church’s youth or children’s ministries need the ask and answer. People who occupy a pew every Sunday are needed to occupy the kool-aid station at VBS. Folks that have time to drive to the early-bird special 3+ times a week are needed to drive a few generally well-behaved middle schoolers to camp. Adults that had people pour into their younger selves are needed to pass it on. There’s no “aging out” limit to the responsibility or vows we made when each child was received into our church at Baptism or Baby Dedication.

Come on, people. Let’s step up.


P.S.- I just signed up to help at my local VBS.

Stephanie Caro

Stephanie Caro

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Stephanie Caro has been involved in ministry to youth and youth workers in the local church since…well, a long time – 30+ years. Her humorous, straightforward style keeps her busy presenting and coaching at conferences, training events, camps, mission trips, retreats, churches, etc. Her latest books are, “Thriving Youth Ministry in Smaller Churches” and “99 Thoughts for the Smaller Church Youth Worker,” published by Group/Simply Youth Ministry. Stephanie is a contributing author to several youth ministry resources in addition to her regular column “Smaller Church Youth Ministry” in Group Magazine. Stephanie is Senior Consultant for Mark DeVries’ Ministry Architects and the director for their Small Church Ministry Architects division. She and her hubby, Steve, live in Houston, TX. All 7 kids are grown and out – praise God!

4 responses to A (mini) Rant About (the lack of) Volunteering

  1. Amen Amen Amen. I hate the ‘I had my turn” like God turns on a calling when you hit a certain age or when your kids get out of school. I always want to say “do you want youth and kids in this church?” (I think everyone would raise their hand) then I want to say….. THEN DO SOMETHING!

    That being said….. maybe everyone does need to take a turn at pre-k VBS………….

  2. “There’s no “aging out” limit to the responsibility or vows we made when each child was received into our church at Baptism or Baby Dedication.”

    Great point. I often wonder about our idle and empty words offered at these types of milestones.

    Fantastic connecting point. I can’t wait to talk about this from the pulpit!

  3. as a clergy spouse myself, I fully appreciate you point, but…. please don’t assume that folks “that have time to drive to the early-bird special 3+ times a week” CAN drive kids to camp. I’m probably hyper-sensitive right now because of my health problems, but I know all too well that a person might be driving to a restaurant because they can’t handle cooking anything and the round trip to that restaurant may be all the driving their body can handle.

    • Stephanie Caro
      Stephanie Caro June 6, 2014 at 4:45 pm

      Thanks for reading and thanks for replying. You know the “driving” was a metaphor about the bigger picture, right? My husband can’t drive at all (and no one would want him too given his legs don’t work very well!) but he still helps out in serving, etc., with the children.

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