Church Volunteerism in the Age of COVID-19

Even in the best of times, churches have to work creatively and proactively to keep volunteerism up.

In fact, 50% of pastors feel like this is the biggest challenge they face. One unique advantage churches have over other nonprofit organizations is the ongoing sense of connection fostered by weekly face-to-face interaction in classes, events, worship and other activities.
In 2020, however, that advantage has dwindled. 
Unprecedented closures due to COVID-19, decreased programming and staff, and long-term social distancing plans have made it difficult to maintain that sense of connection. Nearly half of worshippers are now attending an online churchservice. With the decreased accountability and visibility come the temptations to disengage, to shop around, and to become spectators rather than participants.
Wouldn’t it be nice, in times like these, if someone outside your organization could step in and help? 
That’s exactly what Feed the Need Missions loves to do – empower and activate the Church to meet physical and spiritual needs. As a faith-based nonprofit organization, we have been partnering with local churches and harnessing the power of volunteers for a decade. Despite the COVID outbreak, we have seen nearly 200 volunteers show up each week to serve rural communities across Texas. 
Our President, Jonah Beyer, often consults with pastors looking to grow a passion for service among congregants. The following are a few suggestions – and some practical solutions – from our family of faith to yours. 


Volunteer Opportunities Are Vital For Church Growth

If you haven’t embraced volunteerism as a huge opportunity for church growth, this is step one. The impacts begin with the individual and blossom outward to affect the temperature of the entire church body. The process begins as active volunteers begin to experience personal benefits: 
  • They feel purpose and belonging
  • They cultivate new friendships
  • They discover gifts and passions
  • They experience the satisfaction that comes with helping and influencing others
From this experience springs loyalty to the church and personal ownership over its success. These individuals are no longer just spectators. They show up faithfully each week, ready to invest in the overall vision. 
This translates into great things for the church as a whole. Staff members experience less burnout as they give away ministry. And as members attend services regularly, they mature spiritually. Part of this maturity includes members replicating themselves and giving away ministry to others. 
Ultimately, then, enabling volunteerism promotes overall church growth.

Practical Ways to Cultivate the Volunteer Spirit

Once you understand why building up volunteers is important, you can get to work making it happen. Below are three postures and practices we suggest for building a successful volunteer base. 


 1. Make It Personal

If you want to grow volunteerism, here is a rule of thumb: people over projects. “People are one of our greatest assets,” Jonah shares. “But when the task becomes more important than the person, you lose your ability to lead.” In short, make sure that the leader at the helm is someone who is personable. Don’t delegate and disappear. Check in with people. Get to know them. Listen to their stories, experiences, and suggestions. Celebrate them. Thank them. Investing in volunteers, rather than just using people up as a resource, will build excitement and loyalty into your team. 


 2. Make It Meaningful

People don’t want to do busy work. They don’t get excited about doing “anyone can handle this” jobs. Trying to make it sound innocuous may be tempting, but it will not incite interest and passion – or attract the right people. What will, however, is an understanding of the overall vision and the impact it will have. Help volunteers see that, big or small, visible or behind the scenes, their offering is changing lives for Jesus Christ. In our annual Gobble Kits effort, for example, volunteers aren’t just handing out food or collecting canned goods. They are providing hope by donating Thanksgiving meals to families who are in desperate need in their own communities. They are the hands and feet of Jesus. The way we frame things makes all the difference in the attitudes of the people we lead. 


3. Build a Partnership 

With many churches still planning programming conservatively these days, your staff may simply not have the bandwidth to organize a project or mission right now. If this is the case, find a local mission you love and build a partnership. This way, the facility, details and supplies are handled by a third party; you can simply show up, serve and grow together. Feed the Need Missions would love to help you begin the process of engaging and developing a volunteer spirit in your church. 
Feed the Need Missions Church partnerships take many forms:

  • Home groups or classes choose a night to serve dinner at one of our weekly sites 
  • Mini-local mission trips take place for ministry areas to practice testimony sharing, Gospel sharing, and intercessory prayer
  • Members with administrative skill serve as site coordinators and church ambassadors
  • Church facilities are opened as a donation supply pick-up centers for seasonal missions


Partner with Feed the Need Missions

If you are interested in how a partnership with Feed the Need Missions might benefit your church, we’d love to connect. Let us host a Church and Burgers informational event at your location. Here, we share our vision and cook a delicious, free meal for your congregation. You can also schedule a strategy session with our president, Jonah Beyer or visit our website
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