We all want effective ministries! So, how do we create a culture where leaders thrive, want to come back, and recruit their friends to be a part of it? Tom Shefchunas had a few ideas about “How to ‘Free’ a Volunteer” in his pre-conference workshop. In fact, he had five steps to follow.

Step #1: Resolve yourself to the fact that this will take time. You don’t see a culture change; you realize it has changed. Pray it up, and stay on point as you wait.

Step #2: Get great people in the room. Tom suggests the book, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, which has this main idea:

First get the right people on the bus, get the wrong people off the bus, place the right people in the right seats, and figure out where to drive the bus. If this happens, the culture changes, and the culture starts to work it out. The uncomfortable people will want to go, and you should let them.

You are looking for people willing to give their TIME, a mature-enough FAITH, and CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. Christian character is that set of abilities that we need to meet the demands of life. Those abilities are:

  • Attachment: Does this person understand their need for others.
  • Responsibility: Does this person understand what they are and are not responsible for?
  • Imperfection: Are they comfortable with where God has them now?
  • Adult Functioning:  Does this person have authority? Does this person understand they have a mission? Has this person made a clear break from their parents and their faith? Does this person set a good example when it comes to his or her sexuality?

Step #3: Decide this is not your ministry. Tom stated that “the problem with our ministries is that we are leading the ministries.” A good question that we need to ask is, “Will my ministry outlast my time leading it, or is it so dependent on me?”

Step #4: Simplify your ministry and define their job. You need a vision, mission, and strategy. Keep the list of essentials short. A long list does not work. Give them requirements. (Examples from Tom’s ministry can be found at transitstudents.org.) He went on to say, “If you want your leaders to feel like they’re doing something important, give them something important to do.” While this seems simple, it is unfortunately not as easy to live out. According to Tom, “Relationships are built on shared quality experiences.”

Step #5: Now… Let them go! It is not going to look like you think it is going to look. Some people are going to mess up. You might have to do some cleanup. However, if you are going to free up your ministry volunteers, you need to set them free.

Tom Shefchunas is the North Point Ministries Multi-Campus Director of Middle School for North Point Community Church, Buckhead Church, and Browns Bridge Community Church.  Tom’s passion involves working with, recruiting, and developing the hundreds of volunteer small group leaders it takes to pull off Transit and Inside Out (North Point’s middle school and high school environments).  Tom and his wife Julie live in Cumming, Georgia, with their three kids.

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