How many volunteers does it take to change a light bulb?
Okay, seriously. This is not a joke. When you are trying to fill volunteer positions in your Sunday School or recruit volunteers for your Fall Festival, how many volunteers do you need?
You can probably come up with a pretty good estimate. As the deadlines draw near, it is easy to see how many positions are unfilled. At that point, you start to scramble for space in the bulletin (if your church still has one) or make phone calls or call in personal favors. As things get desperate (from your point of view — Ever wonder about God’s sense of humor as He watches this play out?), I have a better question for you:
How many volunteers do you actually have in your church?
I had an epiphany the day the pastor sent me into all of the Sunday morning Bible study classes to recruit volunteers for a Fall Festival. I looked at folks with walkers, young parents lugging diaper bags, people I knew were taking trips, etc., etc. After adjusting for all of the limitations, we didn’t have enough actual human beings to fill all of the volunteer positions we had created!
I’m not saying that people were unwilling. I’m saying that I did not see enough adults (youth included) to fill the slots — people who could be there to lift and tote, or watch kids carefully, or walk at a brisk pace (or toss balls back) for an hour or two, or cook at a grill for three hours.
If I had been looking for Bible study leaders, I would have run into a different set of limitations. Not everyone can be there 50 weeks out of the year or read well enough to plan a lesson or speak in front of even a small audience. For example, teenagers can do a lot of things, but they rarely lead a home group for couples. All of that shrinks your pool of potential volunteers before you ever consider their spiritual maturity or the personality fit.
In community theater groups, we knew that 10% of the tickets that people reserved for our programs would end up not being used. Life happens. I haven’t seen numbers that involve church volunteers, though.
For every 100 people in your church, how many of them are actually available in your volunteer pool? There may be some guidelines that tell us how to calculate the number.
It’s time to go looking for them — or figure them out. If you know of any, leave us a comment!