Asking without Apology

Asking without Apology
Mark Waltz

[vol-uhn-teer] noun

1. a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking.
2. a person who performs a service willingly and without pay.

The volunteers at our local church – give their very lives. Selflessly, willingly, regularly. I’m amazed at their expertise, heart and generosity. Truth is – as amazing as their response is, we really do expect a lot from our volunteers.

We have volunteers who:
* mix our audio every weekend
* run point for our entire Elkhart site children’s ministry
* are responsible for the weekend guest experience
* lead our online church venue
* perform in our band
* lead worship
* create, film and produce videos
* chair our administrative council
* teach our kids and students
* assemble programs, wash toys, and care for the lawn

Here’s what I’ve discovered as I talk with other church leaders: Sometimes we’re afraid to make the big ask. We are tempted to make decisions for people – the time requirement is too much, the responsibility is too great, the expertise is too demanding. Sometimes we jump in to “rescue” volunteers because we think their time and energy need to be protected.

Let volunteers make their own decisions about their time, responsibility load and energy expended. Don’t cheat your volunteers by not going for the big ask. Yes, we have hundreds of volunteers whose role requires only a minimal amount of time each month, but their contribution is still advancing the kingdom. And we have scores of volunteers who are giving beyond my imagination of “reasonable.” Let them lead.

When you’re afraid the ask is too big, it will find expression in your tone. You may or may not use these words: “I know this is a really big ask. I almost hate to even ask you. I mean, how unreasonable is it that you’d have time to do this? How demanding is it to expect you to give such towering expertise to this volunteer function?” By the time we’ve finished the conversation, the volunteer may be talked out of the ask!

Over time this apologetic ask (or refusal to ask) risks producing a culture where volunteers:
* lament the burden of ministry
* expect to be paid over a certain threshold of hours or responsibility
* give minimally because it’s all that’s been asked for
* stop participating because the challenge is too low
* underestimate the value they bring to the ministry through their unique kingdom contribution
* feel like “this is as good as it gets” and excellence suffers

Make the big ask. If your church has any vision at all, you’ll never be able to hire enough staff to do all that is required. Make the big ask. Volunteers are honored when they’re asked to lead, even sacrifice, for the cause. Make the big ask. You can’t do it all – and if you can, you shouldn’t. Make no apology. Make the ask.

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Mark Waltz is pastor of connections and multisite pastor at “Granger Community Church” in Granger, IN.

This article “Asking without Apology” by Mark Waltz was excerpted from: web site. October 2010. It may be used for study & research purposes only.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”