If mediocrity is good enough for you, then you can just skip this post. If, however, you want to see followers of Christ serving with joy and effectiveness in ministry, training is not optional.
Most churches expect their pastors to have some level of formal training. To scan a listing of pastoral job openings, one will see that a seminary education is often required, or at least recommended. Why don’t churches just let pastors “wing it” and learn by trial and error? There is too much at stake for a pastor to lead a congregation without the development of pastoral skills. But why do we expect something less of the rest of the church?
Some churches have embraced training for ministry leaders. These have deacon retreats, Sunday School teacher training, and leadership workshops. Yet, there are some churches that believe that all members should be trained and equipped for ministry. These are also churches that possess a high percentage of members actively involved in ministry service.
One way to begin training is by offering a “volunteer orientation.” Volunteer orientation is a general session offered to members and guests who desire to know more about the opportunities for service at a particular church. Marlene Wilson in Volunteer Orientation and Training reminds leaders, “You’ve invested a great deal of time and energy into finding, interviewing, and placing volunteers. If you fail to orient those volunteers into your ministry and their unique roles in it, you may well undo all you’ve accomplished.”
This orientation should be brief but potent in the sharing of information. The mission of the church and core values for volunteerism must be explained. Participants should receive a snapshot of the array of ministry opportunities. Lastly, participants should receive a handout with comprehensive information about each ministry area, volunteer needs, and contact information for ministry leadership.
The general orientation simply presents members and guests of the church with the opportunity to explore the options for ministry service. The specific ministry orientation is an opportunity for members to gain insight into a particular ministry area. This orientation will give detailed information, examples of ministry service, and introduce participants to ministry area leaders.
The specific ministry orientation should be conducted by the ministry area leader, or by a volunteer within the ministry area who is competent and comfortable making a brief presentation. Pat MacMillan, in his book, The Performance Factor, emphasized the personal connection of this orientation. He states, “Individual orientation is even more critical for a new member who is just joining the team… Without such orientation it will be different for this person to develop a sense of belonging and connection to the team. The result is that they become spectators to the team’s effort rather than committed, contributing “partners.”
Church volunteers need to be trained for their position. As MacMillan reminds leaders, “Adults learn best when they see a connection between training and specific current needs. When the connection is clear there is little question of relevancy.”
Training takes time and effort from the church leadership. Yet, it is worth the effort in the end, for training assists people in finding their God-called fit in the Body of Christ and equips them for serving with a life-changing impact. Ministry training for all members creates a healthier church.
This post begins a five part series that will examine each of these points that “A Church Member” wants his leadership to know. If you are not a subscriber to this blog, click on the subscription link on the sidebar to insure that you do not miss a post.
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