What To Do With Volunteers?

This is a very worthy podcast. Mike Sessler has done Church Tech Weekly for a long time and this latest one touches on a topic that I have been passionate about for a long time. It seems that church leaders don’t always know what to do with volunteers, don’t know how to engage them, train them and help them to grow. Too often I have seen church leaders simply not be willing to engage volunteers simply because they don’t really know how.

This week, Mike pulls in my friend Van Metschke and also Anthony Progar and Jason Castellente and they discuss the following:

How do you integrate new volunteers into your tech ministry? How do you train them, keep them engaged and encourage them to grow? We answer these questions and more this week as we talk about building our teams.

Click this link to download or subscribe at iTunes.

If you don’t know what to do with volunteers, it’s ok but please take the time to listen to this podcast and learn from these guys that are doing this in there own churches. They even use middle school and teen youth, which I have always thought was a great approach.

How do you use volunteers?

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Leading Followers Is Too Easy

Leading volunteers is challenging. Motivating a team of volunteers to show up, let alone work cohesively together is definitely an artform.  Believe me, if there was a formula, I would give it to you now and we could call it a day.

A good leader can build a solid team over time and the team will function well week after week under the leader’s direction.  However, someday, the inevitable will happen, the leader will not be there. What happens now? We can’t just close up shop, the team must go on but the outcome may vary tremendously depending on how the team has been led.

At it’s most basic form, a leader is a leader because someone is following, but a leader that brings excellence works constantly to turn those followers into leaders. It is easy to lead followers. Not to minimize this issue but it’s easy for me to lead my dog. Anywhere I go, my dog is right behind me. In fact, if I stop too quickly, she plows into me because she follows that closely sometimes. If I let her lead, she will look back at me and find her place back behind me.  She is not a leader, she’s a follower and a very good follower, at that.  One of the best.

Here’s the problem with leading followers. When a follower has no one to follow, they tend to be lost.  The job, whatever that job is, will not be done because the follower doesn’t have the initiative to follow through. They haven’t been taught to do their task on their own. If you, as their leader, only expect your team to follow you, when you are absent, they will be lost, even if another leader is filling in for you. All your team may know is to do what you tell them to do.
A true leader will empower the team members to take ownership of various tasks within the team and what this does is allows each person to lead their particular area within the team.  You are still leading the team but you are helping build leadership skills within your team members.  The best way for you, as their leader, to do this is to know the people on the team. As you learn each person’s strengths, weaknesses, desires, passions and gifts, you can help them find their exact role on your team.
To recap, as a leader of volunteers, your role as their leader should be to provide the following:
  • Know their Strengths and weaknesses - Talk to your team members one on one, know who they are and what’s important to them, know their goals and desires.
  • Ownership - Provide opportunities to your team members to own the process, big or small.
  • Be the cheerleader - As a leader, you are the biggest cheerleader of your team. That in itself will do more to encourage your team members and build them up than anything else.
By focusing on these 3 steps, you are on your way to building a solid volunteer team.

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The Art of Leading Volunteers


It’s one thing to lead someone when you have some form of power over them, such as a paycheck or other tangible benefit but what does it take to lead those that owe you nothing?  The skill in this type of leadership has everything to do with your ability to meet the need that they need fulfilled.

Honestly, there’s no real reason that a volunteer needs to come back, they only come back because it is their choice.   The primary reason the volunteer will choose to come back is because of you and the way you are leading. Sure, there are plenty of other reasons to continue a volunteer role but honestly, I have seen people give up something that they are passionate about strictly because the leader was not leading well.

That’s sad!

Know your people. They are looking to you to lead. They want you to lead. Your job is to be their biggest cheerleader, both indvidually as well as cheering on the entire team on.

Believe in your team!

Believe in your people!

They will do so much more because you believe in them.

The teams I currently lead and ones I have led in the past are pretty amazing. I am able to show up and every once in awhile, point the direction we should be going.  But, my primary role is to stand back and let the team rock it, as I serve right along side them.

  • Know their strengths – use them within the team in ways that they can excel.
  • Know their weaknesses – help them develop these areas
  • Know their passions – learn what really excites them and draw on that
  • Know their dreams – dreaming is always good, dream together
  • Know their goals – provide opportunities to reach these goals
What is your secret for leading volunteers?

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What Do You Want?

Here’s a question.

If this site is having new life breathed into it, let’s get down to what’s important:

  • What is it that you want to see here?
  • What topics are relevant to you?
  • What things need clarification?
  • What are the things that you are wondering about the most?
  • What’s going to make this site relevant again to you?
  • What are the right questions that I should be asking?

Let’s get this thing going! Join me!

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LifeGroup Leader Orientation

I went through LifeGroup Leader orientation a couple of weeks ago at my church, LifeChurch.tv Ft. Worth, and it was very enlightening. I don’t think I have ever actually been trained in leading a LifeGroup so I learned a lot. LifeChurch.tv gives a lot of freedom to their LifeGroup leaders as far as the type of group, how often you meet, and even the curriculum. I have seen some churches dictate all of that and in my opinion, doing that is unnecessary.

We have the freedom to decide nearly every variable of the group that we are starting.  There is a catch, though.  The expectation is that you do actually define some things, such as the type of person you want to connect with, how often you will meet and the most important aspect is to define your vision for your group.  That is something I never considered, at least not enough to write it down.

In the past, we had the opportunity to lead a group that literally came together by accident.  It seemed that each of us in the group had struggled to get plugged in to a group and one by one, we came together to form an extremely tight-knit group.  This group clicked really well and now, probably 4 years after the fact, we are still friends with some from that group, long after all of us left that particular church.

Now, the work begins for this group. Our intention is to have a group of parents similar to us, where we can relate to many things in our lives.  One of the things that I am supposed to define is the type of group that we will be. Are we a short term group, long term group or a multiplicity group.  A multiplicity group is one that is designed to raise up other leaders and then send them off to start new groups.  Honestly, I am all about raising up leaders, that is what I do in any group I lead because that makes complete sense.  I tend to raise up leaders to replace me and it’s actually a good plan.  Some are intimidated by raising up leaders because they don’t want someone to be better than they are or they don’t want to lose control of their group.  That is so wrong.  I don’t think I’ll be defining our new group as a multiplicity group but I hope we are able to raise up other leaders along the way.

In this orientation, we were put into a group that is led by a community group leader and this is our support team as we all move forward on creating our new groups. We will meet every 30 days for the next 3 months and I have volunteered to coordinate our meetings.  So, in about a month, I will be meeting with this group again.  It’s fascinating to hear the stories of how each of us got to the point of being drawn to lead a LifeGroup.

If you are in the Ft. Worth/Arlington area and looking to be part of a LifeGroup, hit me up!

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Cutting Edge Social Media In The Church……Really?

I have been a part of LifeChurch for many years in different ways, mostly from a distance.  I have watched ChurchOnline evolve and mature into a worldwide outreach that reaches many many people every week, with experiences online happening nearly 24/7.  For the last year, I have led a volunteer team at ChurchOnline on Thursday nights which is pretty amazing.

Now, for the first time ever, I live within minutes of a LifeChurch.tv campus and our family has begun to get connected there. After over 2 years of not being connected to a church, it’s great to be at a church that is welcoming and open and the leadership has been intentional at helping my entire family plug in and be connected.  The bonus is that it’s LifeChurch, Ft. Worth, TX.

This weekend, I have been presented with the opportunity to help lead a team of people that are going to look at new and better ways to use social media to reach out and also to offer new ways for current attenders to connect. So, these are the questions I have for you:

  • How is your church using social media?
  • Are you doing anything that you see no one else doing but it’s effective?
  • Let me know how you are using Facebook, Twitter and other social sites.
  • How is your church using QR codes?
  • What other ideas have you had but your church is not doing yet?
  • My local LifeChurch uses Facebook to send out messages and that’s cool but I wonder if there is more that we can do.

Our goal is to take social media to the next level and even be on the cutting edge.

Let’s work to help each other do more in this area.

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CTM Facebook Group

Quite awhile ago, I started a Facebook group for this site and many people joined it.  However, it never seemed to reach it’s potential as an interactive group.  I would like to see that change but I’m going to need your help.

All I need you to do is to contribute to the conversation at the Church Tech Matters Facebook group.  You have questions, opinions and experiences like no one else and I’m pretty sure you have something to contribute. Come by and visit and ask questions and answer questions and simply be part of this conversation.

This is a way to turn this site from a one way conversation to two way and make it more effective for all of us.  If you are a tech volunteer at your church and have questions, then this is the place to find answers. Also, you have opinions and expertise to share with the global church tech community.

So, give it a shot! The most recent post on there is about QR codes and how your church could use them.

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Will You Join Me….Again?

It seems that not only am I getting back to writing but also that I’m getting back to writing on this site.  Some things will never cease to amaze me. I honestly had no intention of coming back to this site when I walked away over 2 years ago, yet here I am. I love the idea of having a team of writers such as we have now and I told them 2 years ago that I would do my best to lead them but I wouldn’t be directly involved with the site.

I knew at the time that was no way to lead but that was all I had to give back then. I typically lead by example and clearly, I was not setting a good example.  Maybe that’s all about to change, but I’m still a little uncertain about if I will maintain my motivation. 

It seems that many of you have remained faithful through this time and for that, I am grateful.  To be honest, God put such a strong desire in me over 6 years ago to equip the Church to use technology more effectively and I have seen Him use this site and me in so many ways, far beyond what I ever imagined possible.

A combination of things occurred in the last half of 2008 that led to me walking away from this site, nothing significant enough to recount here, but these things all came to a head and I made the decision to move on. I felt like this site had run it’s course and I needed to get away.

It sure felt like that was the right decision.  Now, at this point in my life, once again, a combination of things in my life has led me to come back to this site.  I’m not sure yet what this means and I’m not sure what my purpose is yet.  All I know is that this feels right and it feels like this is where I need to be.

I have spent the last 2 years wandering, in fact, I wandered so much I find myself living 2 states away from where I used to live.  That definitely gives me a new perspective on things.

Whatever the reason, I am back and I have plenty to say. I hope! I would be honored to have you join me here again, along with my faithful team, as we continue to work to equip both the (local) church and the Church as a whole, to effectively use technology to reach people for Christ.

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Fact #3

How secure is your identity online?

It’s really not secure at all. It doesn’t take much for anyone to learn basic facts about you. Those that fear the internet for security reasons are wise and those who do Facebook, online banking and other random things on the internet are foolish.

The above statement is actually very true and you can pick one extreme or the other as a place to land, if you want. It’s completely your choice.  But what is your choice based on? Fact or fiction?

Fact #1: Facebook and other sites like it expose your personal data for all to see, including bad people who want to steal your identity and stalk you.

Fact #2: People who ignore Fact #1 are foolish.

There is a Fact #3, do you know what fact is?

I read an interesting article at Windows Secrets last week titled Windows Secrets Personal Security Baseline and it addresses security on the internet.

Facebook is one thing but you also need to be careful about online banking and online shopping and other aspects of being online.  Websites will have you store the answer to a secret question for password recovery, such as:

  • Your childhood best friend?
  • The street you grew up on?
  • The name of your first dog?
  • Your mother’s maiden name?

If you answer the same question at every site, once I, the social hacker, master that one question, I am in. I potentially have access to your bank account, your Amazon account, eBay, Bass Pro Shops and many others.

One tip would be to mix up the answer to that secret question, just don’t forget your made up answer.  That’s just one idea that I read in the Windows Secrets article.  I could re-iterate the entire thing for you but it would be better for you to go read it yourself, very much worth your time.

Oh yeah, have you figured out what Fact #3 is yet?

Fact #3: Be smart and be aware online, monitor your privacy settings on Facebook and ensure you are not broadcasting personal information such as your phone number and address to complete strangers.  Like many things, don’t land on one extreme or the other, pick somewhere in the middle.

Be careful, be aware and make smart decisions about your online presence.

By the way, I am barely scratching the surface here. What are your thoughts on online safety?

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Wake-up Call

Complacency is a feeling of contentment or self-satisfaction, especially when coupled with an unawareness of danger, trouble, or controversy.

How often do we live this way?  It seems that if we stop looking ahead and stop dreaming, we allow complacency to settle in

To be honest, I have been complacent for quite some time when it comes to church and even tech in church.  In an effort to climb out of this state of mind, I was scouring through my archives looking for inspiration and landed on a post titled Called to Complacency, a post that I wrote in 2006. I had a wake-up call back then, one that I hope to never get again.  Today, I’m highly in need of a wake-up call and I would much rather have a self-inflicted wake-up call, so here we go!

Time to step out of complacency and get back into the game. Not sure of my exact role in this game yet, but I’m ready to open my eyes again and consider my options.

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