Continuing in the need for people topic… Another mistake that churches often make is to get a group of willing people together to attack a project or program. Willingness and ability are two completely separate issues. People are willing for many reasons, and some of them very bad reasons. I had a friend who once served a church where the key volunteer in his area was somewhat of an icon. She had been in that ministry area for 12 years when he arrived. Church members talked about all the sacrifices that she had made over the years, and how vital she was to the ministry. Initially, this seemed to great to my friend, but as time moved on, he came to realize that it was a serious problem. Like many things in life, what was going on behind the scenes created a different picture. She was the wife of an alcoholic, and received little to no affirmation at home. Like many spouses of alcoholics, she was an enabler. In the church, she had found a place where she was able to play the part of the martyr, and gets lots of attention and affirmation for it. She was willing, but not really able. Her dysfunctional patterns had set the tone for a dysfunctional ministry. My friend saw this and soon realized that she perceived him as a threat to her. She worked to undermine him, and eventually was successful. She needed all the glory for herself.
On one hand, it was great that this woman was able to find a place to fit in and be loved. On the other hand, it should not have been in a key leadership position. The need for a willing person to do the work often clouds judgment in getting the right people into the right positions.
So how so we deal with this in an arena that is always in need of more and more people? It begins by making sure that the key leaders are generally emotionally healthy people. Moving unhealthy people out and replacing them with healthy ones can be a long and difficult process. You may not always be in position to explain publicly why you are making these changes, which can bring up other issues.
Once your key leaders are in place, you begin by helping them to work out a plan for their ministry areas so that they can recruit effectively. (see Show Me the People). There is one other key step. Before you sit down and ask anyone to serve, find the Connectors in your church. A Connector is someone who seems to know everyone, and often also knows their gifts and abilities. Connectors are vital at putting all the pieces into place to form a great ministry team.
A word of caution: Do not turn them into recruiters! That is not the best use of their time. Get them to generate the list and have someone else call and say, “Jim recommended that I contact you regarding this position”. The effect is powerful, and you are likely to get a positive response. Getting your teams on track will go a long way to creating dynamic, thriving ministries. Remember, people like to be on a winning team!