3 - Develop

Your Volunteer Team

As we’ve been learning, going beyond mere “church watching” takes planning, intentionality, and the Spirit of God leading and guiding your community. One common thread in it all is people. God uses people to spread His gospel in new and creative ways. 

In this session, Jason Morris, Innovation and Technology Pastor at Westside Family Church in Lenexa, Kansas, will walk us through the four stages of online church development and share what he’s learned about recruiting, managing, and encouraging his most valued group of people: his volunteers. 

Jason’s online church in Florida has gone the distance. It began as a small tech team live streaming to church members and has grown to be a thriving volunteer team ministering to a community of Christ-followers across the globe. As he’s reflected back, Jason sees four stages in their progress:

  • Pre-launch
  • Launch
  • Development
  • Release
Each of these stages are unique in its planning and volunteer needs.  

Do you resonate with these four stages? Where is your church in its online church journey?
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This is a time of possible tension as you navigate a new way to serve and worship in an established church. Your already-established church will likely have an already-established culture of volunteerism, which requires volunteers to do certain things in order to serve (e.g. get a background check, become a member, etc.). Online church will introduce a new culture of volunteerism where new people are allowed to serve in new ways. 

What early volunteer needs can you see or imagine in your pre-launch stage?
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To what extent do you think this shift in volunteerism will create tension with your already established church?
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Jason said that your pre-launch and launch teams are not the ones that take you the distance in online church; they’re simply the ones to get you going. The real tech gurus in your congregation, for example, are a necessity in the early stages of your online church. They're the ones who make it possible to live stream your services and get an online platform up and running.

If you’re still in the pre-launch stage, who are some tech gurus you should utilize in getting your online church going? Make a list.
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Jason shared how a woman from Iowa challenged him to consider serving beyond the pre-launch and launch stages. She wanted to get involved in ministry at the online campus, but he hadn’t considered how people outside his immediate circle of influence could be used. Jason challenged pastors to think about to what extent they will allow online viewers to volunteer when they may or may not fit the traditional church volunteer mold. In his own church he’s created roles like prayer ninjas, chat artists, and experienced captains to do the work of ministry without stepping foot on the church’s physical campus.  

You have no idea how God will bless and grow your ministry, but what are some potential volunteer roles you can envision as your online presence grows nationally, maybe even globally? (Feel free to borrow ideas from Westside or other churches you know about. )
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Jason talks about the importance of encouraging and supporting your online volunteer teams. If you’ve already gotten started on your online campus, who are some volunteers you should already thank for helping you?
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Jason talked about how as time went on in their online ministry, the need for tech-savvy volunteers decreased a bit while the need for more pastoral volunteers increased. The church had become comfortable with its online platform but found itself in need of a stronger relational presence to meet the spiritual needs of online viewers. This developed into a tension between the tech-savvy and the pastoral volunteers in his online church. Don’t be alarmed if this happens to you! It’s normal and a sign of healthy growth. 

Your online church may not be in need of significant relational ministry yet, but it will be. Who are some people you already know you’d like to recruit to shepherd your online flock, knowing even more will emerge as your ministry spreads?
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Jason shared ways he made the online church launch and development process fun. Have you already built fun into your process? If not, what are some things you can do to have fun with your team so that you begin your online church with a culture of engagement and community?
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Jason said a culture of fun is important, and so is a culture of competency. He encouraged training your volunteers so that all of them can do their very best in their various roles. Training can be done face-to-face in the early stages and then online via YouTube as your church develops its own leadership training materials. This kind of training seems to be the very beginning of the release phase his church is entering.  

What value do you see in training volunteers for ministry?
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How do you see volunteer training as personally helpful to you as you oversee a growing ministry?
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What level of volunteer training do you feel called to offer now?
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“Relationships trump competency.” Jason said it’s tempting to see volunteers as cogs in a machine versus vital parts of the body of Christ. He admitted in his own leadership sacrificing relationships for efficiency in developing Westside’s online campus. Jason reminded leaders of the importance of seeing each volunteer as a person God has entrusted to you and your ministry. 

Have you ever made the mistake of seeing volunteers as merely a more efficient way to do ministry? Explain.
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What plans do you have to keep your online church essentially relational?
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As Jan mentioned in the last session, it matters to online viewers when they feel like you know them and care about them. The same is true for volunteers. Before you move on to the next session, take a minute to write some thank you notes to people—staff or volunteer—who have helped you pray through, process, and develop your online ministry. It’s vital your team feels valued and appreciated as you journey through this ministry together.