Women leaders – Create more volunteer positions for men!

by Kristi

As a woman and as a leader, I hate to admit that there is anything I cannot do….but it is one hundred percent true that I cannot be a man! And, I don’t want to be a man. If you are a woman in leadership of an organization that serves a mixed constituency (i.e. not just women), consider the role of men in your team of volunteers.


First question: Are you unintentionally excluding men as volunteers? Upon entering one church setting, my evaluation of the current state of the organization revealed that although men were involved as volunteers in the department under scrutiny, they were hidden. An individual had to go to a classroom to realize that Mr. Volunteer was a teacher there every week – and in fact, he had been a faithful volunteer for over ten years.

The challenge: Men were not visible in this organization, and thus, new male volunteers were being unintentionally excluded. In the church setting, it invariably proves true that, “Men attract men.” When men see other men getting involved, they realize there might be a good fit for them, and understand the task may be something they can do.

The fix: We created visible volunteer positions – Greeters/Check-In Attendants/Administrative Desk support persons/Safety Team – in which men could be visible throughout the whole program and attract other men to volunteer also. If you discover a willing volunteer, evaluate what he enjoys and will be good at. Remember, “being” is as much of the accomplishment as “doing”. If a male volunteer (he is “being” a man) is hanging out doing something he enjoys and being a friendly face for your organization, the task (the “doing”) is highly likely to get done….and often he will bring along another man to help out!


Second question: Are you setting men up for success as volunteers? Looking at the professional level of men in one church where I served, it was easy to see where men felt successful in volunteering. In the programs where there was a high level of preparation completed for a teacher (where they were responsible to review the lesson ahead of time, but all supplies were provided and ready to go in the classroom) there was less trouble in attracting men as volunteers. In many cases, the men volunteered more frequently, and for a longer length of time.

The challenge: Men hate failure. They run from it! Many men will avoid serving as a volunteer in your organization if they smell one trace of possible failure. Men don’t want to play on a failing team, and they don’t want to fail on an individual basis.

The fix: Communicate the successes of your organization to prospective male volunteers. Let them know that they are joining a winning team. Then, give men a foundation for being successful as volunteers in your organization and train them along the way for greater success. We started using a brief “Orientation and Tour” session to give all volunteers a starting point for success. Now, no volunteer has to use mere common sense as their only guide for success.

Good news

Bolstering a female led organization with empowered men, and learning from their perspectives is an on-going challenge. Don’t blame others. Start with yourself, and accept this challenge so your voice with be strengthened with men outside your organization. Before you know it, there will be more men inside your organization and they will keep the momentum going.


Pray for what?? (Part 2 of 2)

(Part 2, follow up on Pray for what??)

“Pray for volunteers.”  What do you pray for?  We’re looking at the Living Sacrifices verse in Romans 12:1 and the passage that follows.

8.  Pray for volunteers who see the needs of other believers and help to meet them (v. 12).  This may mean financial generosity, but it can also mean providing transportation for another volunteer, opening their homes to meetings, or bringing healthy snacks instead of sugary treats for volunteers who struggle with health issues. Ask God for people who welcome people into their homes, into their hearts, and into their church family.

9.  Pray for volunteers who are emotionally engaged with others (v. 15).  Volunteers don’t need to wear their hearts on their sleeves — and some volunteers need guidance in knowing how much info is too much.  Ask the Lord to give you volunteers who care enough to care — who can laugh and cry and create safe space and give support.

10.  Pray for volunteers who are on the same page — who bring their eclectic experiences and unique points of view, but who bond together in their single-minded purpose of seeking the mind of Christ (v. 16).

11.  Pray for volunteers who can push past the economic and educational differences that stratify society (v. 16).  They don’t gloss over the differences that are real challenges for so many people.  Instead, they find a way to enjoy serving with individuals whose backgrounds and opportunities are different from their own.  Pray also that God will remind each of your volunteers that there is no place for feeling superior in the Body (see also 1 Cor 12:22-25; Isaiah 6).

12.  Pray for volunteers who have the kind of moral compass that guides them without the need for detailed church rules, constant micromanagement, and civil laws to cover every possible temptation (v. 17).  Ask Him for volunteers who, though they are mindful of God’s judgment, are looking for ways to reach out with His love and peace (v. 18).

Summing it up, yes, this looks like a wishlist for the perfect volunteer — and we know that we work with imperfect people in a fallen world.  Keep in mind that these are suggestions for prayer, not minimum job requirements as you screen candidates.

Ask the Lord to open your spiritual eyes and spiritual ears to discern hearts that are open to Him and lives that are available to His work in your ministry.

Finally, thank Him for providing the volunteers you need.  Never forget to say, “Thank you, Lord!”

For a PDF of the full list, click here → VolunteerProject.net – Pray for what – full list

Pray for what??

“Pray for volunteers.”  Easy enough to say that.  But what do you pray for?  More warm bodies?  More eager faces?  More “what do you need, I’ll do anything” types?

Prayers like that might serve your short term purposes, but they contribute very little to your goals of building up members of the Body of Christ and equipping them to serve.

Kristi’s post about God providing a volunteer “just in time” wasn’t about meeting her personal need for help.  It was about that funny thing we do to ourselves — being surprised when God actually answers a very specific prayer or, even better, sets the answer in motion before we think to pray.

But let’s say that you are asking and expecting God’s answer.  What then?

Take a look at the Living Sacrifices verse in Romans 12:1 and the passage that follows:

1.  Pray for volunteers who show up willingly to serve the Lord (v.1).  Ask God for people who get their bodies there even when it demands a personal cost.  Ask Him for “holy sacrifices” — those who examine their intentions and let God work on their priorities.

2.  Pray for volunteers who leave the world’s way of doing things behind (v. 2) — who search scripture to know how Jesus wants them to accomplish the work of His kingdom.  Ask God for volunteers who expect to be trained and mentored.  Then, pray for your praying and mentoring.

3.  Pray for volunteers who work well with others (v. 3).  They don’t have a chip on their shoulder, a doormat attitude, or a need to control everything.   They know their strengths and weaknesses.  Remember, though, that most of us are a work in progress.  Pray for an openness to let God work in their lives.  And ask Him to bring people who will grow together in love (v. 10 – 11)

4.  Pray for volunteers who bring something special to the ministry team (v. 4).  Consider the different functions and how they complement one another.  Ask God to provide the people to fill the functions that will help the ministry to grow to its full potential.  Ask Him to open spiritual eyes (your own and those of other volunteers) to people who see things from a different perspective — but who see themselves as part of a whole.

5.  Pray for volunteers who understand spiritual giftedness and who are actively looking for the best place for God to use their gifts.  Ask Him to enable you to encourage your volunteers to explore their gifts and to attribute their success to His grace.

6.  Pray for volunteers who work hard at their ministry and who work hard at maturing spiritually (v. 11).  Be sure to include prayers for yourself and your team so that your volunteers never feel like they have to choose between giving and growing.

7.  Pray for volunteers who pray! (v. 11)  They know where their guidance and power and support come from, and they call on Him to do spiritual work through their mortal bodies.

*** To be continued***


Are you set for a Just-In-Time delivery?

by Kristi

(Part 2, follow up on Have you hit the “Easy” Button?)

Have you figured it out yet?  Sometimes we don’t “have” volunteers because we don’t “ask.”  We forget to ask Our Father in Heaven to provide for our needs.  And we forget to ask the people that God puts in front of us.  Multiple times the New Testament instructs us to ask.  Take just a minute to read two verses:  John 14:13 and John 16:24.

One memorable example of this principle followed an excruciatingly painful experience.  A mistake on my part caused a critical part of the worship service to be delayed.  Believe me, I heard about it before the day was over!  It was very tempting to be mad that no one understood how dealings with congregants had caused my tardiness.  Regardless of my feelings, the mandate was the same – don’t be late to the worship service!!!!

By Monday I had simmered down, and began to ask for God’s wisdom in understanding if there was anything I could change to avoid the situation another time.  Within just a couple days, I had a clear understanding of the answer.  There was a particular slice of responsibility that seemed very inconsequential.  Yet, it was not a responsibility that I had to hold on to  — it was possible for a volunteer to take care of that responsibility.  By giving over this area to a volunteer, I would then be free for other ministry tasks.

Immediately, I began praying for God to provide a volunteer to take over that one slice of responsibility.  My self-imposed deadline was two Sundays from the incident, as that was a day when the same responsibilities landed on my plate again.  By Thursday before the deadline, I had given up and was planning to handle that task once again.  On Friday, I ran by the office for a small errand on my day off, and was astounded to find God’s provision.

As I walked through a gathering area outside a room where a weekend event was getting underway, I was greeted by an acquaintance:  “Hey, I was wanting to talk to you.  I think I’m ready to get involved as a volunteer.  I’d really prefer something behind the scenes.  I actually have a background as a pastry chef.  I’m not sure if you have a place where you can use my skills, but please start thinking about it.”

Skills that come to mind when you think of “hostess” and “hospitality” were exactly what were needed to answer my prayer.  Surely a pastry chef who wanted to work behind the scenes had that set of skills.  I quickly responded, “That is amazing you would offer.  I have been asking God to provide a volunteer in exactly the role you are describing.  Could you come on Sunday, and I’ll show you what the position entails?”

Needless to say, the volunteer agreed that the position was a fit with her desires and skill set.  As she came to shadow me, her husband joined her, and now I regularly call upon these two volunteers to take over a task that I could handle if I stretched and stressed myself out.

Oh you faint of heart.  You have not because you ask not!  That is me!  Most of the time, as with this topic, I’m “preaching to the choir” and have a strong need to listen to my own words.  This is just one testimonial that God desires to meet our needs…. just on time.  The Father is glorified, as I know for sure that this was His provision and not my work.

Have you hit the “Easy” Button?

I’m intrigued by that big, red “Easy” button in the advertisements of a chain of office supply stores.  You just hit the button and your supplies arrive.  Right.  Sure they do.

I want one of those at the church.  We hit the “Easy” button and a chute out of heaven drops volunteers into our ministries.  Easy!

I saw the button for sale at the store.  Don’t ask me what it does.  (I’m intrigued, not rich — or stupid.)  It’s not connected to anything, as far as I can tell.  If it had some sort of transmitter or phone or wifi, I’m sure that it would cost a bundle.

Is that big, red “Easy” button a metaphor for your volunteer recruiting — great to look at but not connected to the Provider?

Jesus told us to ask “the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).  When God has work to be done, He is ready to send the help.

I considered the idea of having an Easy button connected to a sign that flashed, “Pray!  Pray!  Pray!”  In some ways, it’s a great mental picture, but I’m not ready to start some Push-It-Provide-It theology of prayer.  I want my prayers filtered through John 14:14 (asking in Jesus’ name, according to His will).

There is still a take-away here, though:  Connecting to the Provider.  An Easy button only works in the commercials.  God wants to provide the people for His projects, but He wants us to ask.  Prayer is primary, not an afterthought.

[ In our next post, Kristi writes about a real life example of asking in prayer and receiving an answer — just in time. ]