Getting & Keeping Church Members Involved in Christian Outreach Programs

Published: 10th March 2010
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Oftentimes, I encounter churches that complain of a lack of dedicated volunteers for their outreach ministries; a problem that can certainly ruin Christian outreach efforts. In some instances, they began their program with a substantial amount of volunteers and within a couple of months, the number of volunteers had dwindled to no more than a handful. In other instances, the church was unable to acquire any volunteers from the start of the program. While the cause of a lack of dedicated volunteers varies, there are a few common culprits that your church should consider during the planning and implementation process of an outreach program.

Lack of advertisement

Many churches fail to advertise their outreach ministries adequately. They may announce the outreach opportunity during the announcement section of worship service, but they fail to mention it at any other time. This is a big mistake. Church members have a life outside of the church. They have full-time jobs, children, workout regimen, etc. While the outreach program at church may be important, it is added to the long list of "to-do" items that they must accomplish each week. Thus, without more than a quick verbal reminder, the Christian Outreach program may become a distant memory. In addition to mentioning the outreach program during worship services, the outreach committee should also post the outreach program on the bulletin board, keep it listed in the church's newsletter and on the website, and encourage established volunteers to bring a friend each week.

Lack of tasks

When designing their Christian outreach program, some churches forget to think of the role that volunteers will play in the implementation of the program. Outside of their planned program personnel, there aren't any defined tasks for volunteers to take on. As a result, when church members show up to volunteer they end up sitting around without anything to do. This is definitely not motivation for them to show-up again (especially given the aforementioned list of other obligations). When planning the outreach program, keep in mind the volunteers. If your church is starting a meal program, for example, some volunteers can operate the meal line; others can cook; others can handle clean-up and others can set-up.

Lack of recognition

While your church's members are most likely volunteering out of their desire to give, it doesn't hurt to give to them as well. Some churches fail to recognize and/or thank their outreach program volunteers for the wonderful job that they're doing. This may cause some church members to feel unappreciated and diminish morale. A recognition event could easily solve this problem. Your outreach ministries committee could simply have cake after worship service, put up a thank you banner, or if funds are available, have a dinner celebration.

While there are other causes of a lack of participation in Christian outreach programs, this list can help churches to avoid the common pitfalls that have hindered the success of worthwhile programs. If churches remember to keep both the target community and the congregation in mind while planning the program, these problems can be avoided.

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