“I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean…”
J.R.R. Tolkien’s line from The Fellowship of the Ring undoubtedly resonates with church leaders looking to staff ministries and keep volunteers – and volunteers may feel the same.
In a society spread too thin, Sam Garrison recommends churches dive deep. Garrison, an attorney and featured speaker at the ADOTS Conference & Synod 2016 in November, advocates engaging volunteers with a “deeper, not wider” approach.
Over the past 20-plus years, Garrison has witnessed the impact of sustained volunteerism as part of the Church, and as his wife Gayle – a volunteer leader with Young Life – has mentored countless teenagers.
“Contrary to conventional wisdom, our experience has shown that so long as people know you aren’t taking advantage of them, quality volunteers want to be asked to commit more, not less,” Garrison says.
But that requires leadership to recognize that by saying “yes” to you, volunteers are saying “no” to something or someone else – a balance necessary to sustain service in the Church. Garrison says it’s important to make sure volunteers know it’s okay to say “no.”
He adds that “the Christian life is not a solo endeavor,” and that working with a team should bring energy and life instead of draining it.
“Scripture is clear that when we are working in accord with God’s will and abiding in Him, the resulting burden is light… The key is discerning how God has uniquely wired you, and serving in a way that uses your gifts as part of a healthy, Spirit-filled team,” Garrison says.
Garrison will be sharing his expertise on mobilizing lay people for volunteering, on Saturday morning of this year’s “Empowering Laity” Synod. He and Gayle are members of Grace Anglican Church in Fleming Island, Florida.
“It’s truly amazing to see the power of relational ministry and watch it transform lives,” he says, noting that Young Life students will reach out to Gayle years later – some as parents now themselves – just to say “thank you.”
Join us this year November 4-5th as we learn together how to better empower laity for ministry. Registration is now open. Learn more here.
-by Rachel Moorman, Communications Associate