We Don’t Need You

Carl Barnhill

People don’t respond to “need.” They respond to vision.

I’ve been guilty in the past of begging for volunteers. I’ve laid the thick guilt trip on from the stage before. I’ve forced the “Want to Volunteer?” slide on the Announcement loop every Sunday. I’ve seemed down right desperate.

There was a point in my ministry when I realized something.

I realized that we really didn’t need volunteers. 

We could outsource media professionals if we absolutely had to. We could pull teenagers from the student ministry to push buttons if we had to.

I realized it was God that brought people into our Media Production team to help, it wasn’t me begging.

I changed my perspective. I changed my language.

Instead of our volunteer positions being “needs,” I started referring to everything as an “opportunity.” We were giving people the “opportunity” to serve. We were giving people the “opportunity” to help create incredible experiences where people met Jesus and experienced salvation. We were giving people the “opportunity” to help craft an atmosphere where believers could worship and grow in their relationship with Christ.

We didn’t need anyone. We can find people to sit in a chair and push buttons.

I started casting vision. 

I started asking new members to our church things like, “Who in this group came to know Christ in one of our Worship Experiences?” and “Who in this group has experienced some type of life change from one of our Worship Experiences?” then following up with “That’s what we do in production. We are praying that God will use our hands and our creativity to change lives through the experiences we create together. We see life change up close and personal. Want to join us?”

I stopped using the typical lines like, “If you’re a behind the scenes kind of person,” “If you don’t mind being here for 6 hours on Sunday,” “If you have a technical background…” we would love to have you in production!

I made a decision to put to use anyone that God would bring to our team. I made a decision to find a place for everyone to serve in production – no matter what their skill was.

“You like to cook?” “You like to decorate?”

“Awesome!! We have an opportunity on our team for a hospitality team to prepare breakfast and snacks for our team and decorate our spaces!”

“You’re an event coordinator?”

“That’s great! We have a opportunity on our team for someone to plan monthly and yearly events for our team to find community with each other.”

“You work at Lowe’s? You’re a great handyman?”

“I am so excited! We have an opportunity on our team for someone to help build our sets.”

This “We Don’t Need You” language wasn’t said openly. I wouldn’t want someone to feel like they were not wanted on the team. On the contrary, I wanted to find an opportunity for anyone to serve in production.

What this mentality also protected our team from was entitlement. 

“The team needs me. Sunday can’t run without me there…”

“Actually it can. This ministry is not dependent on any one person, even me as the leader. It’s not in anyway that we don’t want you involved or love it when you serve, but we’re about giving as many people opportunities to serve as possible on our team.”

There are things we can do to invite new volunteers to join our teams. But let’s not have the attitude that we are so important that it can’t function without us there.

Don’t beg for volunteers.

Cast a compelling vision and people will follow.

About Carl Barnhill

Owner, Church Visuals

Carl Barnhill is a creative entrepreneur, motion designer and author. He is the Owner Church Visuals, a company that helps Ministry Leaders visually communicate the Gospel. He is the host of the Your Visuals Matter Podcast. You can find him in Columbia, South Carolina with his wife, Katie and two sons, Jacob and Wesley.

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