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Getting Volunteers on Track

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Jack, a local businessman, had a passion for outreach, but our church had a hard time finding a place for him to serve. His schedule kept him from committing to any regular responsibility.

Renee was different. She signed up for almost every ministry and time slot on our volunteer registration form. So I plugged her into everything she showed interest in. After a month, her enthusiasm faded.

Figuring out the limits and preferences of volunteers is a challenge even for seasoned pastors. How can we know if we are asking too much or too little of our volunteers? I've tried to answer this question by creating spreadsheets and elaborate registration forms for volunteers. But what I've found most useful is a metaphor borrowed from running: some volunteers are sprinters and others are marathoners.

Marathon volunteers are in it for the long haul. They prefer to serve over a series of months, if not a year. They pace themselves, serving a few hours each week. Sprinters, on the other hand, concentrate ...

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