Time, Volunteerism, and Congregational Life

Recently I heard the story of a congregational leader who asked a church member to serve as a greeter on Sunday morning. The person quickly responded saying, “I can’t do another thing!” If you ask any most any clergy member or lay leader in a congregation about the leadership challenges they face, an issue that often emerges is time—or a perceived lack of time. The struggle with time shows up in many places:

  • When congregation members are asked to teach, serve, or lead
  • In the changing meaning of “regular” attendance at worship or other events
  • In asking congregation members for time to discuss important issues
  • Trying to hold additional congregational meetings for anything besides worship
  • Scheduling leadership training or committee work

Like the congregation member in the story above, many people seem to think they do not have time to give. Is that really true? And how do we address the challenge of finding the volunteer resources we need in congregations? The articles below will hopefully provide some ways to help you better understand this issue as you look for solutions that will work in your ministry context.

Work, Sleep, TV. How Americans Spend Their Days
Of course, every individual and family is different. Even so, this article provides a broad view of how typical Americans spend their days (HINT: read the title). Of particular interest is the time people spend on work-related activities on the weekends.

What is the Average Hours Per Week Worked in the US?
https://www.thebalancecareers.com/what-is-the-average-hours-per-week-worked-in-the-us-2060631This article provides an overview of the hours people spend working broken down by several factors including gender, race, education and marital status. This article also confirms that people are working on weekends as well as weekdays with a high percentage of people with more than one job working on weekends.

Why Volunteer?
This article provides a helpful overview not of the problem, but some helpful ideas for potentially increasing volunteerism. People volunteer but its not just for the “cause” or issue—it’s also for themselves. Understanding what motivates people can help leaders find more ways to engage volunteers.

America Does Not Have Enough Volunteers
Author Marc Joseph argues in this article that (giving) money isn’t the answer to solving all our problems. Lots of Americans do volunteer for various things, but, he says, not nearly enough. He points out the huge discrepancy among states when it comes to volunteerism. What can account for this?

Volunteer Time Value Hits All-Time High
https://www.thenonprofittimes.com/news-articles/volunteer-time-value-hits-all-time-high/Finally, it might help to know that volunteering time actually counts for a lot. According to author Paul Clolery, the value of a volunteer’s time hit an all-time high during 2018 at $25.43 an hour. What if you put a value on volunteer’s time in our church? What would it be? Would it help or hurt volunteerism?

Blessings on you as you live out your call faithfully day by day!