Freedom Fighters

In the latest issue of Harvard Business Review, Scott Cook, makes some interesting points about volunteerism in his article, “The Contribution Revolution:  Letting Volunteers Build Your Business.”  As we currently exist within an open-system-corporate culture (i.e. wikipedia, e-bay, etc.), Cook shows how volunteerism is now a huge market for profit-making businesses.

In relation to volunteerism within the church, Scott surfaced a statement worth reflecting on:

“The [volunteer] challenge for executives is twofold:  First, you must learn how to spot opportunities for creating value from user contributions.  Second—and here’s the difficult part—in acting on these opportunities, you must overcome natural organizational resistance to the idea of relinquishing significant control to people outside the company” (63).

So in a day where volunteerism is a continuous issue within most churches, where do churches tend to fail?

…with the lack of creating value? (Seems almost impossible in light of what the church is about.)


…the lack of freedom?


~ by Dave Smith on September 25, 2008.

4 Responses to “Freedom Fighters”

  1. Acttually, I’d lean toward the first one. I think most volunteers are really confused as to how their role helps the organization accomplish it’s overall win. Yeah, they know the mission of the organization is zenith, but how does what they do matter, especially in a larger organization.

    Vision leaks. We have to continually remind volunteers what their mission is and how to EVALUATE their contributions. For example, every one of our family ministry volunteers has a lanyard with their ID on the front. On the back is printed their one-sentence job description, which we call a “win statement.” At the end of the day we ask them, “Were you able to accomplish your win today? How can we better empower you to accomplish your win next week?” It’s a litmus test of success for us, and reminds the volunteer each week what the goal of their service is.

    When the win is accomplished, we try hard to celebrate that, tell others about it, and make a really big deal about it. That’s part of casting the vision, as well.

    Andy Stanley says (about vision) you TEACH it, you CELEBRATE it, you MODEL it. It works whether I’m talking about personal evangelism, stewardship, or reaching four-year-olds.

  2. Good call. I realized as I wrote this point I obviously game my opinion and was hoping someone would take the other side, as that is still very true within church work too.

    I wonder if those organizations that are big on the freedom end suffer more on the value end…and vice versa?

  3. My wife volunteered for a leadership role in our church for the past 2 years. She walked away VERY dissillusioned and has been reluctant to get involved in anything else b/c:

    1 – Bureaucracy. Half her time was spent navigating the stockpiles of “policies” in place.

    2 – Lack of empowerment. Continually told to “think outside the box”, I watched (and participated to some extent) her bring no less than 8 – 12 reasonable and legitimate ideas to her ministry directer over the course of 2 years, and EVERY SINGLE ONE was shot down.

    It became a bit of a joke. I began to tell her, “just go ahead and do it and ask permission later.”

    3 – Micro-management. Told she had X dollars for a budget, she was evaluated on projected purchases that involved less than $10!

  4. Wow Anthony. That is pretty discouraging to hear. We’ll have to talk more about that one sometime face to face, as I’d like to hear more.

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