Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Serve One

Have you ever wondered where you are going to get all of the volunteers you need in your ministry? If you are leading a volunteer workforce, you are in good company. The US Department of Labor reported that this past year (ending September) that there were 62.8 million people that were actively volunteering in some organization. These people came from all walks of life, all economic classes, some college, some not, all races, both genders, young and old. On average they spent about 52 hours in the past year volunteering, or about one hour a week.

While you may not remember all these numbers, remember the “one-hour a week.” Many churches have embraced “Worship one; Serve one” as a challenge to all of their members, engaging each one of them in a worship service and a serving opportunity, both likely about one hour a week.

We know that people volunteer for a variety of reasons. These range from identification with the values and mission of the organization and wanting to help, to a desire to get to know other people, make friends and find common interests. Regardless of the reasons given, our churches advance their mission when people identify with our mission and our calling.  Identifying the Great Commandment (to love one another) and the Great Commission (to make disciples of all nations) as our mission creates great opportunities for people to serve, make a difference and grow in their faith. Remember, people have opportunities to serve in all kinds of organizations but only the church can give them the opportunity to fulfill the mission Jesus gave His followers.

What is interesting also about one hour is that studies have shown that in about an hour, the average volunteer can be fully trained to perform the job for which they are assigned. The church jobs that volunteers fill range from some simple jobs like handing out the weekly bulletin or folding chairs to more complex tasks like making hospital rounds, supervising a nursery or mentoring inner-city youths.

What is unfortunate is that all too often, we don’t give these volunteers the one-hour of training that they need. This is unfortunate because the church is one big volunteer-run organization. Since the day of Pentecost, the vast majority of the leaders in the Church have been volunteers. Volunteers provide the invitation, the hospitality, the teaching, the training, the development and also the governance of most churches.

When training is inadequate, volunteers don’t get the opportunity to fully understand the importance of their role. Without proper training they can’t lead and without leadership the mission suffers.

Fortunately the best people to do the training are volunteers. We just need to give them the opportunity and let them know it is a priority; let them find the one-hour to train. Let them lead….62.8 million can’t be wrong.

Training vs. Trusting

One of the words we hear often when it comes to people and a particular responsibility or assignments is the word “trust.” I remember my children often saying, “Don’t you trust me?” when we were setting boundaries, limits on activity, or checking to see if their homework was completed. As parents, my wife and I often had to explain that it’s not about trust but about training. The concept of trust, while important, is not as important as other things. Other things like training, equipping and generally gaining experience are the way people establish trust.

This concept and understanding of training and trusting is important in our churches and ministries. When we have important processes, tasks and responsibilities, it’s best not to rely solely on trust. Its only through training that we can truly expect that important processes, tasks and responsibilities are executed properly. Training provides the appropriate knowledge transfer and an adequate period of time for the employee or volunteers to gain the experience needed to do their job properly.

No shortcut in training

While all jobs and assignments don’t have the same complexity or skill level required, all require some measure of training. Personally, I rely on the three-step training process:
  1. I do it 
  2. We do it together 
  3. You do it, I watch

I’m not sure exactly when I first heard about this model, but I have learned that not only does it work but it also can’t be bypassed. This doesn’t mean that as a pastor, I need to train every staff member and volunteer, but it does mean that everyone being trained needs to have someone that personally demonstrates, supports and then supervises in order to verify knowledge and skill have been transferred.

Trusting is not a substitute for training

When we hear someone use the words “trust,” one of the things we can do is try to discover if the word trust is being used as a substitute for training. All too often we press new employees and volunteers into the job without adequate training. Most of us have experienced inadequately trained employees and volunteers from receptionists to preachers. When this happens, these newer and inadequately trained appear to be less “trust-worthy” when it really isn’t a matter of trust but a matter of training.

Trusting should not be a substitute for training. Trust is earned and developed through very intentional orientation and training processes that transfer knowledge and experience. The three-step training process: “I do it; we do it together, you do it, I watch” is a great and necessary part of developing trust.

Reprint from ChurchExecutive Magazine September 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012

In God We Trust - all others submit your budgets!

It's likely budget time at an employer or organization near you!!

Some firms budget better than others and while there are a lot of good things we can say about budgets, budgets are never fun.

While I've made a transition from the for-profit side of organizations to the non-profit side of organization, I haven't been able to escape some responsibility for the budget process.

Budgeting at the large multinational corporation I was employed with was a very exacting process.  The controllers office was constantly aware of both revenues and expenses and about every way performance could be measured, it was measured and measured frequently.

At the same time, the actual time spent by non-finance people working on budgets was minimal.  As a manager I was responsible to review and submit my budget for approval, however the size of my budget was rarely a consideration.  We grew our budgets when revenues and the business plan dictated that we had sufficient opportunity to use the resources productively.

This is typically not true in our non-profit organizations.  I've found the process to be completely different.  For years I've struggled trying to determine why budgets in non-profits and our churches can be so frustrating and then I finally stumbled on the reason:  It has nothing to do with competency as we have some fine financial types and plenty of bean-counters in the nonprofits.  The difference is related to the nature of the non-profit and how fundamentally different it is from the for-profit.

I'm not talking about taxes or whether there is stock given to owners.  No, the difference between a non-profit and a for-profit is all about revenues and expenditures.

Let's take a for-profit organization first.  Let's assume we are talking about a pizza shop.  In a pizza shop, like all other for-profit companies, there is a direct correlation -- a direct linkage between the sources of revenue and the expenditure of funds.  The pizza shop buys dough, tomato paste, fresh ingredients, hires cooks and delivery employees, invests in ovens, menus, advertising and assorted other things and rents a building to sell pizzas.  All of the revenue that comes into the shop is a result of the sale of their pizzas.  Easy!

This is not true for the non-profit.  In most non-profits revenue comes from contributions. In a church, that would be tithes and offerings and in other non-profits it's donations.    The non-profit however needs to determine where to allocate the funds that are received.  Often this is completely subjective process despite being carefully considered.  This process is often continually on the agenda through the year and there is a strong and often healthy competition for the limited resources that are provided.  Since the needs and the mission of the organization are broad and typically never ending, there is a never ending desire for additional revenue to meet organizational needs and mission desires.

The vast majority of the non-profit organizations are very careful with expenses, often getting great mileage out of every dollar spent.  However, because there are few linkages between successful fund raising and the resourcing of projects and activities, much more effort and thoughtfulness is required on the allocation of the money through the annual budget process.

The Real Virus Is Fear

There is a virus that is attacking and ravaging this country but it is not Covid-19.   It is fear.  This fear is being spread by people ...