Why do so many people I know who have been church leaders or key volunteers need to ‘recover’ at some point?
Okay, that’s a trick question and one that I already know the answer to. It’s because the 80–20 principle is alive and well and chewing people up in local churches. There are 20 percent of the people doing 80 percent of the work, and no one seems to know how to change it. So we’re just living with it, holding our collective breath as church leaders and waiting for the next key volunteer to burn out.
This is never what the church was supposed to be. This isn’t what God designed us for. God gave each of us a unique set of gifts that He intended for us to use to build each other up for the work of ministry. That’s the Ephesians 4 way to do church, where we use the gifts God has given us in partnership with each other to truly reach our world with the Gospel. No one is carrying a burden that’s too heavy or too uncomfortable or too challenging for them to carry alone. We’re each doing what we’re designed to do and we’re doing amazing things together.
But in order for churches to really do that, we’ve got to help people know what they’re gifted to do. Church leaders have got to not only help people identify their gifts, but connect people with complementary gifts with each other so they can accomplish great things in ministry. To do that, we’ve got to keep track of peoples’ unique gifts and be able to see where the needs are in ministry and the people who might be a good fit to fill those needs.
When there are bad systems in place to track these things (or worse yet, no systems in place!), it’s nearly impossible to get things done in church. We find the people who’ll just keep doing things, whether or not they’re the things they are good at or get fired up about, and we wear them out by asking them to do everything all the time.
We’ve got to put systems and processes in place that allow us to get to know everyone in our churches, and figure out their gifts and interests and abilities. We’ve got to broaden out of base of volunteers so we stop leaning on the same 20 percent of people until they can’t keep standing.
Who among your volunteer team is ready to burn out? How can you find the people unique equipped to relieve them?