Empowering Volunteer Champions

There is nothing like watching champions play.  I always love the dynamic of the AFC and NFC championship games.  Things such as luck and passion can get a team to these crucial games, but the performance IN these games is what helps form championship teams and legacy players.  You do not have to be a fan of the team to appreciate the competency of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Cam Newton.

Each week I get to watch championship level contributions from our volunteers at 12Stone.  I am sure I am biased, but I think we have some of the most capable and most passionate volunteers around, and they deliver championship level service each week.

When I think about some of the best championship footballs teams I have ever watched, I am struck by a simple thought.  The owners and coaches have a lot invested in the team, but they have to actually empower the players to get out there and play!  It does not matter how much they pay the team or praise the individuals, at some point they have to empower the team…they have to actually entrust the results of the game into the hands of the players.

That thought is somewhat obvious in sports…but it is not always obvious in volunteer environments like the church.  In a growing church environment it is kind of easy to gather a group of people onto a team.  The hard part is actually empowering and trusting those people to accomplish the work of ministry.

As leaders we must seek to empower volunteer champions.  People want to make a difference with their time and energy, and we must prepare them well and then release them for impact.  My wife calls this, “giving people the keys to the Kingdom.”  That is to trust someone to the point that you free him or her up to go and make things happen!  People will sit on the sidelines if you make them – but they would much rather be in the middle of the action.

One of my favorite volunteer teams at 12Stone is our “Ops” team.  I had the joy of serving with this Operations team for a short season and one of the things that I loved is that this team wanted to be on the frontlines of the weekend activity.  If there is an issue to address or a problem to solve they act as first responders.

There are a number of times on the weekend during high-pressure moments when we need someone to make a gut call.  That call might be to close doors, to open up an overflow environment or to call on police or firemen for assistance.  I love watching our Ops team in these moments, because they are empowered and ready to make the call.  Often they are empowered to make decisions and then our staff follows their lead.  It is a beautiful picture of volunteers freed up to express their gifting and build the Kingdom.

Some of the best volunteer stories I hear come from people who have been fully empowered in their service role.  As leaders God has given us a platform to develop and empower volunteers to engage in meaningful ministry.

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