The Shrinking Church
Leadership Thoughts for Reversing the Trend


Prologue and Introduction: Intent and PurposeThe Shrinking Church

This thread of articles is for clergy and leaders of mainline protestant churches. The purpose is to recognize systemic dysfunctions and leadership gaps that are limiting the effectiveness of the local church, and many times are in the way of true and effective ministries. For the full statement, see Post #1 of the ongoing series. The intent is to promote dialogue through, and awareness of, possibilities for growing healthy ministries of any kind.


Post #12:
Eliminate Volunteers…It’s Not Consistent with Our Theology

Eliminate volunteers

Eliminating Volunteers

Volunteers – or the lack of them – let’s eliminate the term volunteer because it’s contrary to our theology. There’s no wonder why people aren’t functioning and many organizations complain that there are not enough volunteers to do the work needed. How do you feel about eliminating “volunteer” from your vocabulary?

It’s a Paradigm Shift
My strategy is to use a term such as “Members in Ministry” for church volunteers or “Community Servant Leaders” for nonprofits. These terms signify a higher level of engagement and activity. Using the term volunteer sets us up for a low-performance standard because people volunteer when they want, do what they want, and compromise the work. Sometimes the social factor, not the passion for the work, is the driver. I have used this language and, consequently, the different paradigms with organizations for many years with great success. We get stuck in an old paradigm with the previous language. So, it’s imperative to change the language to let go of the previous thinking.

I see that changing the word is the only way to begin to change the paradigm. What say Ye?

Please comment below.

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Hugh Ballou

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