Your church will handle mobilization in different ways than mine — no two churches are the same. And while each church may handle things differently, there are some common mistakes in church mobilization that frequently occur by pastors and other Christian leaders. Mistakes that may not be apparent and mistakes that may be glaring.
If you forget to pay attention to those around you, your mobilization efforts will fail. Everyone in your church has strengths, abilities, and spiritual gifts. Do you know what they are? How frequently do you use these gifts, in order to assess where a person will serve?
Don’t find yourself making the common mistakes in church mobilization listed below. Allow your church’s leaders to see you seeking opportunities to build up others and place them in positions of leadership as well.
7 Common Mistakes in Church Mobilization
1. Pastor as the Professional
If you are “the” professional in your church that everyone defers to, you likely have a leadership and church health problem. Ministry is not just for the pastors…make sure to give others an opportunity to lead.
2. Hire More Staff to Get More Done
Additional staff isn’t always the best answer…but sometimes it can be a good solution. Ask yourself if hiring more staff is due more to a lack of leadership pipeline development or a genuine need for another part-time or full-time staff member.
3. Desperate Pleas for Anybody Willing
Please DON’T EVER DO THIS. You may end up with a filled space, but the quality and performance is likely to be weak. Ask people directly to serve when you have a need. Don’t be timid. Many times congregants wonder why you never asked them to do something. Other times, volunteers find themselves overextending themselves in order to fulfill a need. If everyone is burnt out in your church, you likely have a church culture issue. Make sure people are getting the opportunity to serve; however, also be selective with who you bring in to help so you have quality volunteers serving.
4. The “We’ll Figure It Out” Approach
I’ve seen very small and very large churches operate with this mentality. Very small churches get away with it, because of a committed group of people that will never leave due to their history with the church. Large churches get away with it by having an exceptional preacher that isn’t gifted to cultivate healthy ministry systems. Make sure you have a mobilization plan in place, so that you’re mobilizing your congregation for service and leadership. This will create a culture of leadership development rather than a culture of chaos.
5. Burnout Our Best Volunteers with 90% of the Ministry
As mentioned above, this is a leadership development problem. Don’t let the same people do it all. While they may be willing and excellent volunteers, they also need the opportunity to take a break. Let them serve, but don’t take advantage of their willingness to participate. Spread the work around, so you don’t spread your volunteers too thin.
6. The “No Service Without Maturity” Mobilization Method
Sometimes volunteers have a desire to serve, but feel like they need to be “qualified” in order to participate. This hesitation can leave your volunteers feeling discouraged and/or defeated. Give opportunities for those of all levels of experience to get involved. And you likely have some younger leaders in your church who are more mature that what you think or expect. (Disclaimer: Some opportunities need more strict qualifications or competencies in order for someone to get involved. My point here is that we shouldn’t make all service opportunities so difficult that only a chosen few can get involved.)
7. The “Mission Only Occurs Within These Walls” Volunteer Strategy
Break out of the church building for as many events or meetings as you can. Get yourself into the community and help others to do the same. If people don’t form new friendships with new people in the community, they’ll never have new relationships where they can share their faith or invite someone to a church service. Get new volunteers involved during these events, so that their impact reaches beyond just Sunday morning.
Which of these common mistakes in church mobilization do you find yourself defaulting to when it comes to volunteer involvement and leader development? What other areas have you learned to avoid when mobilizing the church?