If you’re just joining the post, you’ll need to jump back here to get the context 🙂

(Guest Services, Leaders)

Are leaders taking their role seriously to lead volunteers or is it a status thing to be the head honcho? Leading teams of people is so much more than directing and dictating information to them; it’s the empowering, encouraging, building into them, creating opportunities for community, all because they matter to God. So, are you leading?

  • As a leader, because your people matter, do your team members know you well enough to call on you when life throws that curve ball, or are they just calling you to tell you they can’t keep a commitment. Worse yet, are they just calling for a commitment?
  • Leaders, do you know the prayer concerns, the hurts of your team members and is there a time you set aside (because your people matter) to seek God on their behalf? Is seeking God on their behalf seen as a privilege by you as their leader rather than a promise to keep?
  • Leaders, if your team members don’t have the opportunity to look at your eyes as you tell them that they matter, that their ministry matters, who then will convince them that what they give up their time for is making a difference?  Who’s telling them that what they’re doing is a link in the chain to guests who have yet to understand that they matter to God? Are you communicating the wins in your ministry to the team?
  • As a leader, would you notice if a team member has been missing for a couple of months and would you know why?
  • Leaders, are you making sure that great team communications are happening? Does the team know what’s happening, what they’re celebrating and what the needs of the ministry and the teammates are?

Leaders, you have the incredible privilege to “clarify the win” to teams of your awesome volunteers. You matter to God. Your volunteers matter to God. It’s the same message just translated a little different because of your responsibilities.  Tomorrow, we’ll look at how your volunteers translate the win to the guests that we all serve because, yes, they matter to God.

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For a little over a year now, I’ve had the opportunity to lead point on the Volunteer Ministries of Granger Community Church. Most recently, I’ve been asked to lead our Guest Services team here on the Granger Campus as my boss, Mark Waltz, pastors the Elkhart Campus. The good news in this second challenge is that there are some great leaders in place who’ve sat under Mark’s tutelage (did I just type that word?) for a long time.  This additional responsibility has given me reason to revisit some basic leadership teachings on team development as it relates specifically to Guest Services here at GCC.

Digging through some early goals I set a year ago, I came across a notation to apply a simple Andy Stanley principle: “Clarify the Win.” That seemed like a great place to start when developing a strategy for volunteer care and connection.  In any organization, clarifying the win is not only different because of the organization, but also accomplished differently depending on the level of one’s leadership role.

For example, let’s say that the win for the Guest Services department is communicating in such a way that people know that they matter to God. That win is accomplished and communicated at several ways and at different levels of leadership.

In Part 1 of this post, I want to look at how the staff might “clarify the win” to their volunteer leaders. Tomorrow, we’ll look at how these same volunteer leaders can then translate the win – communicating so people know they matter to God – to other volunteers who serve so faithfully on their teams. On Wednesday, I’ll explain how these same team members go about bringing value to our guests so they know that they matter to God.

(Guest Services, Staff)

  •  As staff, are we empowering and encouraging our leaders because they matter or are we doing it because we’ve got to “get it done?
  •  As staff, are we building a sense of community among those we lead because we’ve been reminded to or because our leaders matter?
  •  As staff, are we praying for our leaders to just “get it off the list” or is it because we love them and are passionate about God’s best for them?
  •  As staff, are we continually communicating (verbal and non-verbal) the importance of the individual and the ministry?  Do they know we’re there for them and available to help them accomplish ministry goals for their team members?
  • As staff, have we communicated that our leaders matter to God by having the difficult conversations when our leaders are out of alignment with God’s will for their life?
  • This one’s going to hurt: As staff, have we led the way by setting aside time when we serve others outside of when our “official” staff hat is on? Have we purposed to serve others outside of our job description- so others know they matter to God?
  • As staff, have we communicated that people matter by the way we speak with fellow staffers about others? Yep, there are conversations that have to happen at a staff level but are those conversations tendered with compassion while honoring those who serve Christ through our ministries?
  • Finally, have we, as staff, communicated that our leaders matter by giving our time to minister to them?

In closing this first of three posts, I’ll confess that I’ve had to work through all of these and have yet to master any of them.  I’m aware of them and have made great progress so that my leaders will know without a doubt that they matter to God and, therefore, they matter to me.

Tomorrow, I’ll have some questions for our leaders that will help them communicate to their team members that they matter to God.

I’ve been processing what separates teams that are great from those that are just good (sounds like a book title, I know). To say you’re on a “good” team or you’ve got a “good” team sounds bland to me. It says the team is adequate. The identifier “good” in team even implies that there are better teams outperforming the team you, only moments ago, thought so highly of.  Is that your goal?

My goal is to find and be a part of some of the best teams imaginable. But whether it’s a staff team, a sports team, a team of camera operators or ushers and greeters, what separates them from just being good? What kind of goals does that team need to have to be the best at what they do? A great team doesn’t need to be number one, or even the best; they just have the intention of getting there.

I recently spoke at Woodside Bible Church in Troy, Mich.  Steve Coyner along with his tech crew from the Image Magnification team attended the sessions because they want to take over the title of “the greatest I-Mag crew on the planet.” You can imagine their surprise when I indicated that I had the incredible privilege to be the staff representative for the “greatest I-Mag team on the planet” at Granger Community Church.

This isn’t a post on the greatest I-Mag team on the planet – although I think they are – but, rather, it’s about what sets any team apart as the greatest. In some ways, it’s talent, and in others, experience and training. Becoming the greatest certainly includes the way team members are valued and encouraged as they engage in ministry. The way teammates take ownership in the team and respond to the responsibilities of being the greatest is another significant factor.

The reality is – and I may be telling you something you already know – you can and must have components of all of the above. But if you, as the leader of any team, are not casting a compelling reason for your team to engage, your team might be “good,” but it’ll never cross over to great.

Yep, it all comes down to vision. Even though you already know that, here’s my question: Are you casting a good vision (adequate) or are you casting great vision to inspire a great team? Do team members arrive fired up because they know they have the opportunity to help change lives because of their ministry?  Do they know that it’s even ministry? Do team members have the “mission from God” attitude? (That just sounds like vision)

As a leader, ask yourself this question: Are team members doing what they do out of obligation, compulsion or guilt, or do they have a passion to serve based on a compelling vision that’s been given to them?

As you communicate, add great vision to the equation and you will lead great teams.

Here’s a Rock star that’s been around since the inception of Granger Community Church: Sheila Beeson. OK, I know what you’re thinking, “Sure, pick the senior pastor’s wife – that’s not going to hurt.” Well, get over it.

Without apology, I’ve decided to spotlight Sheila because her influence in the children’s ministry has marked the lives of thousands of children for the Kingdom. She’s placed the name of Jesus before children nearly every weekend for the past 25 years. For decades, Sheila has the led charge in the Penguin Room (5 year olds-2nd grade). Her influence on the lives of these impressionable souls is paralleled only by her influence on the leaders she’s mentored along the way.

You know you’re a rock star leader when you’ve got volunteer rock stars that willingly follow your lead. John Maxwell says, “If you think you’re leading, and you look over your shoulder and no one’s following, then you’re just taking a walk.” Shelia’s never been known to “just take a walk.”

Although this rock star post is about Sheila, she’ll divert all the attention back to her team – and she should; that’s a prerequisite for entering the category of rock star. Her influence on her team of volunteers has kept them in the “game” for 10, 15, even 25 years (and everything in between).

Sheila, like every great ministry leader, has cried and prayed with her team. She’s opened herself up to them and has earned their friendship and trust.  She’s led with dignity and humbled herself while never forgetting the children and the incredible privilege of presenting Christ to them. She’s prepared for over 1,000 weekends and then given those very weekends to live and breathe in that privilege. Want to know one of the things Sheila likes to do in the middle of the week? She loves volunteering. Serving guests and encouraging volunteers on their journey has become part of the life she’s modeled in her 25 years at GCC. Mark captured the above photo of his bride at the most recent Food Drop. Can’t think of one of those she’s missed either.

The truth is rock stars like Sheila hate all the attention. To alleviate some of the attention, I want to call out the rock stars who continue to partner with her in love and prayer as they teach children the values of the Kingdom.

For 15- to 20-plus years: Joanne Rendall, Karen Nowak, Liz Ditto, Kathy Avery, Ann Snyder and Claudia Volheim (Yeah, I know. That’s not going to hurt either).

For about a decade: Otto Taylor, Connie Kamerer, Dan Sipress, Chuck Atwell and Betty Stafford.

An amazing group led by an amazing leader. Their service has been – and continues to be – a privilege and blessing to GCC’s children’s ministry. Thank you, Sheila, and thanks to your team for setting the pace for volunteerism.

 

You’re Invited

Posted: February 11, 2011 in Encouragement, Leadership, Team

We’re running a VolunTOUR at GCC this weekend! I’m juiced because the upfront work is done. We selected the weekend long ago to match the message content. The promotion’s been out there for weeks as well. The bonus is that there’s a supporting media that shows hundreds of volunteers in action. The printed materials are ready and the tour stations are set. Our guides and leaders are ready.

Mark Beeson will invite guests (as only Mark can do) after each service to check it out, which will successfully challenge many. I’ve made it easy: I’ve linked emails with the information, written extensively about the benefits of volunteering in a dozen posts and I’m talking about it everyday.

As great as the tour is – and as ready for the tour as we are – there’s still nothing better than an invite from a friend (It’s that shoulder tap thing). There’s no magic bullet when it comes to motivating people out of the seat they’ve grown comfortable in. There are systems up front that can be worked on and there are programs we can all utilize but nothing will replace the one-on-one conversations or the “ask.”

What if everyone asked just one friend to check out the VolunTOUR? Did you ever think of the impact that might make on our churches, on our ministries or, especially, on our people? What if each of us (as fully committed Christ followers) was determined to point at least one person we knew toward an opportunity, to look at a next step, a step that could change them forever?  You think I’m exaggerating? Nope. I’m convinced a well-functioning team can transform the life of anyone instantly and, quite possibly, during their greatest time of need.

Here’s the bottom line on this one: If we’re not willing to make the “ask” – if we decide that we’ll let someone else shoulder that end of the responsibility – then perhaps it’s time to re-examine our roles as leaders.  Are we teaching the tools without utilizing them ourselves? Are we as motivated as those who serve with us, work for us and give beyond their forty?

Commit to ask; we all have someone in mind.

 

We’re on the last post of this series. All previous excuses for not volunteering were real. I’ve protected the names of the guilty, listened to their words in disbelief and offered replies as therapy for myself. After all, that’s kind of what blogs are all about. Here’s the final countdown – heard of any of them?

#7 “God hasn’t called me to serve”

Really? Here’s another top 10:

#8 “I’ve served for years … let the young people step up”

Yep, let ‘em step up. But here are a couple of things for your consideration: there’s no age limit on service and no such thing as too much service. As long as you’ve got breath, you’re called to advance the Kingdom. There might be physical limitations that restrict us, but there’s never a shortage of ministry opportunities during the “golden years.” The joy factor in giving of your time doesn’t have to extinguish at 65, 70 or 90. In fact, the fruits of your experiences can mentor to the generations to come if you let them.

Our role as servants to the King doesn’t have an expiration date, save for the day of Christ’s return. You wouldn’t consider decades of loving and forgiving one another as an excuse to stop– why would serving others be any different?

#9 “All the church wants is my time and money”

Not true. Many churches want you to come on Easter and Christmas, too.  Sorry, I just stepped back into sarcasm. My guess is that if you’re not serving, it’s highly probable that you may not be tuned in to the heart and vision of your church. Real growth happens outside of that one-hour Sunday thing.  It happens in the disciplines of a Christ Follower that include – but aren’t limited to – the time and money things. Growth happens as we build relationships, relationships often found while serving on a team. Growth happens when we’re seeking to help others without expectations or self-gratification. Growth happens when we realize we’re the ones growing from a selfless act of serving or giving.

#10 “No one has asked”

Sure, it’s great when we’re invited to stand arm and arm to make a difference with someone we know. It’s encouraging when others see our giftedness and tap us on the shoulder to join them on mission. That’s the best approach but, still, the invitation is all around us. It’s in the realization that consumer Christianity doesn’t have a part in changing our churches or our communities. Here’s the reality: If we, as Followers of Christ, utilize excuses to stop serving, not only are we causing a disservice to others but also stunting our own spiritual growth.

 

Ever wondered what serving “outside the box” might look like? If so, just follow the lead of this man, Les Rassi. He is the model of a Volunteer Rock star that has discovered opportunities outside the walls of the church.

A retired biology teacher in the public school system, Les – along with his wife, Velma – has probably served in 25 Habitat builds locally, nationally and internationally. I would think an abundance of ministry like that would be enough to get a free dinner with President Carter.

Les might be able to squeeze that dinner in, but it couldn’t have been on a Saturday during the two years that the Monroe Circle Community Center (MC3) remodeling project was taking place. Les and a team of construction volunteers were at MC3 nearly every weekend, transforming a rundown building into a safe community environment that has become the national model for what the church can do outside of its own walls. What an amazing ministry.

How about trying to squeeze this in – since the opening of that community center, Les and Velma can be found serving the guests that walk through MC3’s doors. They’ve given up nearly every Tuesday to serve coffee and pastries and distribute food and personal care packages to those in need.

That’s enough to be called a rock star in anyone’s book, but when you add to that the fact that the couple took this same servant spirit to the lower caste villages of India (five times!), then you’re really getting outside the box.

Les’ heart for helping others has found him putting new roofs on the homes of strangers and neighbors who’ve been left with far less than anyone reading this post has gotten by with. How do you explain hearts that give as much as the ones found in this couple? It can only be ascribed as complete devotion to loving others while following the call Christ has put on their hearts to serve.

Let me tell you what else Les has been up to lately. There’s this little place being transformed called the Veterans Center. It’s on the same scale of remodeling that MC3 experienced. It’s going to be another place that offers help to those who’ve found themselves in a difficult place in life. It will take hours of labor, weekend after weekend, and Les will be there – you can count on it.

There’s more but you’re getting the picture of what this rock star looks like. The simple truth is Les and Velma would say that helping others has transformed their lives more than the difference they’ve made. And they’re right. Les and Velma: Thank you for all you’ve done to be Jesus with skin “outside the box.”

#4 “I tried it once and it didn’t work out.”

That’s normal and we can fix that. Really. Unless you understand some basic principals of Rick Warren’s work revolving around the acronym SHAPE, you might just miss your calling a couple of times before you hit your sweet spot. Discovering your unique SHAPE (Spiritual gifting’s, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences) will go a long way in helping you discover opportunities that don’t feel like you’re going to the dentist office every time your weekend to serve arrives. Serving doesn’t have to hurt to matter – but to those who are hurting, your serving matters. Whether helping to serve inside or outside the “box,” there are opportunities where we make a difference in the lives of others that will actually bring joy to our often self-centered lives. If at first you don’t succeed … but this time, bring a little SHAPE to the mix.

#5 “I don’t know what I want to do” (So you’ll keep doing nothing?)

Here’s what’s simple: If you’re not sure where to start, you might look into #4 and then be determined to “just say yes.” Here’s what’s difficult: It’s kind of just the reverse of breaking a bad habit.  In this case, you know you should do something but the gap between your head and heart is often filled with competing emotions of good intentions, distractions and deterrents. Speaking of which, it’s somewhat like a quote Oprah reportedly said in the news this week. It’s actually really meaningful: “People don’t change because of what they know but because of what they feel.” Profound. Let’s stop there. My hope in calling out all of these excuses is this: Christ Followers move from what they THINK in their heads is the right thing to deciding in their heart that it’s time to DO the right thing.

#6 “Everything’s under control” (I don’t think I’m needed)

Look around you – you’re kidding, right?! For the sake of argument, let’s just say that every ministry is fully staffed with volunteers and your church appears to be “under control” (pause for breath and reflection). What about outside the church “box?” What about the workplace where you might be a light in a dark world? What about the hurt you could bring relief to at your local shelter? Your community doesn’t have those problem areas? Well, I guess you’re not needed then. Which brings me to my second point: This entire serving thing (although sounding counter-intuitive) is about you! Why? Because you need to be in relationships. You need to be part of something outside of yourself. You need to feel the joy of giving. You need someone to tell you “thanks.” You need to know you’ve made a difference. You need to express your giftedness – to serve and do good works in this world because you (all of us) were made by God to do so. It’s that whole “salt and light” thing.  (Matt.5:13-16)

More excuses coming soon. I’m 56; I’ve heard many.

Excuses, Excuses. Top 10 cont.

Posted: January 12, 2011 in Team

#1 “I’m too busy to serve.”

Although I’m not ranking these excuses, it seems that if there were a number one reason, this would be it. There are seasons in everyone’s life where it seems like everything’s piling up. I get that. I also get that a season might just put you on the bench for a while, too; the job, the kids, the other job, the projects around the house, the kid’s illnesses, the tragic news that your spouse has cancer and even the death of a beloved one. These all can shift our focus off God.

Can I tell you about a man I know – let’s call him Dale (because that’s his real name). For years, Dale would invest one weekend a month running camera for our I-Mag team. It’s a challenging role as one weekend at GCC involves four services, each with its own rehearsal beforehand. Once a month, Dale chose to take this on in addition to the other ministries that he and his late wife, Kristy, were involved in. Dale chose to serve through all of the obstacles above. He’s modeled a servant’s heart for his eight children – yes, I said eight.  I think I’ll just stop and say that if your excuse is that you’re too busy to serve, you need to prayerfully consider the “Dale Factor” and determine if there really is no margin for some type of ministry.  Serving is a choice; perhaps not always a convenient one, but definitely one that leaves a positive impact.

#2 “I didn’t get anything out of it.”

Although this needs to be addressed, I would contend that first of all, it’s not about you. Your needs are not the point here. It’s a shame (see excuse #3) that you were not exposed to the incredible benefits of a well-functioning team but, really, serving is about giving. It’s about following the call of your heart as you are made aware of a need that fits your gifting. It’s about stepping up to help engage others so they can know Christ or to freely offer to give that “cold cup of water” to those without, thus modeling the love of Christ. Really, are you going to use this excuse? Others have, but I hope you’re too smart for that.

#3 “No one appreciated my time.”

Well, shame on us as leaders. I say that with complete sincerity. If we, as staff and ministry leaders, have not done our job by encouraging you on the path, we’ve been negligent. If we’ve failed to build a community of teammates where your name is known, your hurts are prayed for, time is set aside for friendship and conversation, opportunities are made for you to tell your story and you’re encouraged to listen, then we’ve dropped the ball.

If the impact of your ministry isn’t communicated and you’re not told “well done,” then shame on us. But please recognize that there’s room for growth in all of us. Challenge yourself to step up to model community to others as you serve so that no one has an excuse to say you’re not. The needs of the world are too big to allow our mistakes to cause us to loose heart and not engage in the call we’ve all been given. Trust me on this one – our Father sees and knows our hearts.  If the motive is pure, you’ll get an affirmation from the One that matters.

Three more next week-

Excuses, Excuses. Top Ten

Posted: January 10, 2011 in Encouragement, Heart

Over the busy holiday season, when so many incredible volunteers gave an exorbitant amount of time, several thoughts crossed my mind. As co-leaders in the mission field of volunteerism, I’m sure they’ve crossed your mind, too. I walked among the volunteers in our facility, accosted by endless expressions of joy from those involved, and was reminded that there is true joy in giving; in this case, the joy of giving one’s time. Volunteers were serving to make an impact in the lives of not just the regular, weekend crowds, but also seasonal visitors, friends of friends and first-time visitors. I was in full appreciation mode.

Our volunteers – like yours – had Christmas gifts to buy and wrap, holiday parties to attend and families to visit. They had regular jobs to go to and all the challenges of life to face when they woke up each morning. Where did they find … er, better yet, WHY did they take the time to pour hours and hours into our weekend services?

That’s a pretty easy question to answer, so I’m going to attack the other question – why are there so many Christ followers in your church who won’t? Now, here at Granger we don’t have that problem. Naturally, every single one of our attendees is also a volunteer. In fact, we have to turn volunteers away! So, this blog post is for those of you who have a shortage of “joy bling” in your attendance. Please read on and share with “players” in your church who are choosing to sit the bench.

Pause.

Are you catching the sarcasm yet? There’ll be more.

Over the next couple of blog posts, I’m going to dissect some of the reasoning people give for not getting involved in ministry. I want to try to address them with compassion, but to do so will be (begin sarcasm) a bit of a challenge (end sarcasm) so I’ll just bottom line this: If you are a follower of Christ and not involved in a ministry where you’re serving so that others will “get it” or engaged so that those “without” might receive relief, then you’re not only missing out on an incredible opportunity and real joy, but also living in contrast to the call God has commanded his followers to fulfill. Can I say that to those in our church who, for years, have closed their ears to the call to volunteer? I don’t know, I haven’t asked. But I hope you’re glad someone’s “calling out” those in yours.

What excuses have you heard? Here’s my top ten, in no particular order. Feel free to send the post on anonymously to those who come to mind. I’m not worried about calling anyone out or off the bench; it’s a gift I’ve crafted over the years. The world is watching (and waiting) for followers of Christ in your church to get out of their seats. Heck, Christ followers are watching, too! This consumerism christianity (lower case intended) thing happening in your church is driving me crazy.

I’m posting the first three excuses this Wednesday. My guess is that if you’ve been involved in leadership long, our lists will look alike. Just a hunch.