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Turning volunteers into leaders

SUMMARY: Imagine a world in which you alone do not have to plan, find supplies, tell volunteers what to do, lead and clean up afterward. 

In Ephesians 4, Paul reminds the church that Christ has called all of us into ministry. God gives each of us unique gifts so that together we might “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ."  

Through our baptism, we are initiated into Christ’s holy church and welcomed into a life of service to God. Just as Christ called his first disciples, he now calls us to follow him in order that he might make us fishers of people. Christian service and ministry are the ways we live out our faith as the priesthood of all believers. 

How do we turn volunteers into leaders? 

  1. Invite people to claim God’s call in their lives and in the lives of others. It is simple to name those in our congregation who display leadership qualities and gifts. Too often we talk ourselves out of encouraging others to lead because we believe they are too busy, disinterested or intimidated–or that they might make us look lazy. Jesus called his first disciples to leadership. The disciples were busy people just like you and I. Yet, when the call came, they chose to follow Jesus. We, too, need boldly to call others into leadership.
  2. Equip people for leadership. Jesus taught his disciples and equiped them for ministry. Other people have empowered and equiped us for the tasks to which Christ calls us. Our task now is to invest the time and energy required to equip volunteers for their leadership in ministry. Provide resources and tools. Make written resources available in your church. Prepare teachers to teach. Help committee leaders hone time-management skills. Teach potential leaders about conflict management and resolution. Share constructive feedback with leaders after an event or class. Encourage leaders to participate in district, conference, jurisdictional and national training events. 
  3. Give budding leaders an opportunity to use the tools they have gained. (In other words, get out of the way!) Affirm leaders. Be a cheerleader and a coach. Celebrate new leaders’ accomplishments and ideas.

Everyone is called to ministry. Some of us are called to leadership. Proclaim God’s gifts as they are evidenced in your community. Equip the saints and encourage the priesthood of all believers.