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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Leading Volunteer Projects


So, your church has identified a volunteer opportunity and you have prayerfully considered. After all, you have a lot of experience with the type of project; it fits your skills, talents, abilities and spiritual gifts. Though it may be a stretch, you are sure that you are the right person for the job. You approach the church leadership and offer your skills. You are so convincing and enthusiastic, that they select you to head the project.
Heading the project? Didn’t you volunteer just to assist in some way? What do you know about leading anything? Suddenly you lose passion, find yourself doubting the very skills, abilities and gifts that gave you confidence enough to volunteer. This is obviously new territory and leading a group of volunteers is way different than leading a team at work. This is definitely going to test your abilities. Well, where do we begin?
People volunteer for many reasons. They may have skills and love to contribute or they may enjoy being in the mix. Perhaps they step up because nobody else is volunteering. You may be suddenly in charge and maybe by yourself because of the last reason…nobody came. Rick Warren wrote in the Purpose-Driven Life that the reason many churches fail is because the workers aren’t working.
Here’s another fact, 90% of businesses fail within the first five years. You think that’samazing, 90% of those businesses fail after the next five years. That’s sobering, and it has a lot to do with vital project management skills many leaders lack. These are basic skills that are transferable under any situation. If churches can’t successfully complete projects, they’ll never survive.
The first crucial step in good project management is to adequately identify the need and communicate it. This is your opportunity to create a vision that is in harmony with the direction your organization is headed. Ask for direction and provide feedback from the leadership or committee who assigned the job. This vision is critical to understand up front. If you can’t communicate it back in a relatively simple paragraph, then you and the leadership are not on the same sheet of music. Consequently, you will not be able to adequately motivate those who will work on your team.
Jeff will gladly email the remainder of this article upon request. Request at