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The Volunteer Church: Mobilizing Your Congregation for Growth and Effectiveness

Book Review: The Volunteer Church: Mobilizing Your Congregation for Growth and Effectiveness by Leith Anderson and Jill Fox.

This book is packed with detailed ideas and storytelling from personal experience. The writing style is analytical with identification of problems and solutions to common volunteer challenges. Many biblical references support the volunteer structures outlined in the book.

This is a terrific book for anyone leading a local church, parachurch, or ministry. A wealth of wisdom is tucked into each chapter for recruiting, training, managing, and terminating volunteers. I’ve read several books on the subject and so far, this is the best one yet! The authors repeatedly emphasize exploring the spiritual gifts and adjusting the volunteer into positions where the gift are magnified. A reward system is outlined for thank volunteers- beyond the usual coffee mugs and annual thank-you lunch.

Many levels of volunteer placements are discussed as examples- from the youth ministry, ushers ministry, Bible camps, and small groups. It’s a well-rounded point of discussion from the experience of senior church leadership teams.

The Volunteer Church was developed out of the ministry of Leith Anderson at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, where a vital and vibrant volunteer program boasting 4,000 participants grew under the leadership of Jill Fox. The principles and training have been applied in churches of all sizes and denominations in seminar settings across the country as well as at Wooddale Church.

In The Volunteer Church, leaders will

  • Learn how to effectively recruit and train volunteers
  • Discover how to build sustainable, long-lasting ministries led by volunteers
  • Find methods for encouraging and maintaining your volunteers for success
  • Know how to build teams of volunteers
  • Understand how to find the right service that fits a willing volunteer

By the time I finished the book I was so excited I immediately contacted our Womens Bible Cafe™ leadership team and asked them read it too! Together we are mapping out a plan for our volunteer team based on the Intel gathered from this valuable book. We were able to identify areas of strength and weakness in our existing program and create an action plan for future growth and development.

As a ministry director, I am exceptionally grateful to the authors for writing this resource handbook. It has already been beneficial to our team and is a handbook we’ll continue using in the future.

Favorite Quotes:

  • Religious organizations led the list of volunteering opportunities…at their core, churches are volunteer organizations.
  • Volunteering is one of the primary ways we become Christ-like.
  • The volunteer church is more than a slogan or a nice book title. It is God’s design, and it’s the biblical pattern.

About the Author:  Leith Anderson serves as president of the National Association of Evangelicals. For thirty-five years he was the pastor of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. He is a graduate of both Denver Seminary and Fuller Theological Seminary.

Published: Zondervan (August 4, 2015)

Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash

Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Virtual Bible Study by Video or Phone

After 10 years of Online Bible Study #OBS we’re now gathering face-to-face as we develop Virtual Bible Study #VBS communities. This is a game-changer for online ministry because we meet in different geographic locations and time zones.

Rather than communicate in one direction as we do through Facebook groups, we now communicate multi-directional. What exactly does that mean?

In Facebook studies a leader posts a discussion question and then our group members type their comments below the question. This format is visual and runs from top to bottom in an organized method. It works but there are some drawbacks…

When someone replies to a comment, many group members miss the reply because Facebook has hidden the post. Plus, a reply comment requires the participant to go back up the timeline again. Imagine a participant using her small handheld phone (as many women do) and trying to read vertically!!

Yes, vertically… Her eyes keep scanning up and down the page to read as much as she can in the one hour group meeting. In my Monday groups we can have from 300 to 800 comments in an hour. Can you imagine trying to READ all that? 

With our new format members communicate multi-directionally! They see faces, hear tone of voice, watch tears fall and smiles breakthrough.

Yes, there’s more!

They ask questions, listen to each other share stories, and gather from numerous living rooms.

We’re a family of believers.

The inconveniences of video Bible study #VBS are small. We don’t need to dress to impress, drive an hour to local church, or hire a babysitter. Many of our participants are homeschool moms, caretakers, or grandparents with little ones in their lap.

Last week a woman joined us from her car while her husband drove her home from cancer treatments. Another woman joined us from her hospital bed and a third woman wheeled around our screen in her mobile disability chair. It was thrilling to know we were not limited by health and we could all meet together in this virtual cafe.

There’s an excitement knowing that we are “visible” and not just an anonymous face behind a screen. Without doubt, we’re connecting hearts and learning about REVIVAL. 

While I still enjoy Facebook #OBS discussions, I now enjoy #VBS discussions even more as we move our tents away from a platform that censors Christianity. 

If you’d like to join me in  #VBS Virtual Bible Study, please click the button below. We are now meeting once a week for small group discussions and once a month for mentoring group discussions. A seat is waiting for you!

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash