HOW DEACONS CAN HELP BEHIND-THE-SCENES PEOPLE
You don't have to be a deacon or church officer to serve the church. Service is service, regardless of your title or background. Every local church has its share of faithful workers who duck the limelight and simply get the job done. And what a blessing they are to deacons accustomed to the arm-twisting school of volunteer recruiting!
Behind-the-scenes people are perhaps the most underutilized resource in the local church because of their unique temperament and needs. They make ideal followers but require savvy leaders who know how to tap their serving potential. This is where the deacon comes in. Are you committed to tapping the extraordinary potential of behind-the-sceners who sit on practically every pew in your church? Do you know how? Remember, good followers need good leaders.
SALT OF THE EARTH
Behind-the-scenes persons are often misunderstood in the local church because the seem like a bundle of contradictions. Frequently dismissed as mere pew sitters, behind-the-scenes people actually love to be productive, but they don't want to be in charge. They thrive on good organization but feel uncomfortable shouldering responsibility. They want a "piece of the action," but won't pitch in until asked. They are apt to underestimate themselves, but not others. They have their opinions on most matters, but keep these to themselves. "I" doesn't seem to be part of their vocabulary.
Behind-the-sceners are solid salt-of-the-earth church members. The following SALT acronyms shed light on their unique temperament:
Behind-the-scenes members usually are more comfortable and self-confident working alone away from the limelight. The rough and tumble of working with groups (and their inevitable politics) is stressful for behind-the-sceners, who respond much better to companionship (yokefellow) projects or working after hours when everyone else is gone.
Behind-the-sceners are agreeable and cooperative practically all of the time, so a deacon doesn't have to worry about getting his "head bitten off" when soliciting their help. Once they've committed themselves to helping out, behind-the-sceners prove to be loyal, reliable workers. Their cooperative, positive attitude makes life easier and more pleasant for church leaders.
Behind-the-sceners are task-oriented eager beavers who keep their eye on the next tree to fall. And to the relief of church leaders, they don't have the patience for politics, day-dreaming, and gossiping.
It's a breeze for deacons to lead behind the scenes when they keep four leadership guidelines in mind forming the PINS acronym:
Most church leaders can relate to Nike's slogan, "Just do it." Deacons want to get projects done ASAP (if not sooner!) in the simplest way possible. But working with SALT temperament volunteers requires just a bit of patience and planning. Behind-the-sceners are practically invisible in the church since they shy away from leadership positions. Thus, deacons must proactively seek them out, perhaps away from the hustle and bustle of church activities. Extending a personalized invitation to plug into a project is always a smart move.
Since behind-the-sceners are stress-prone, especially when working around others in a high profile setting, deacons must gently nudge them in the right directions through nurturing behaviors such as participative management, listening, brainstorming, and pep talks.
Good followers respond to good leadership, and good leaders know what's needed to build a TEAM:
Training. Getting behind-the-sceners ready to work starts with basic training--but definitely not the long drawn-out formal meeting kind. Deacons should use an informal, one-on-one style of mentoring that neutralizes stress. Clear-cut instructions as to the purpose of the project and the role (specific contributions) of the behind-the-sceners is a good place to start. Provide enough instruction so behind-the-sceners can monitor their own work, but not so much that they feel railroaded or stifled. OJT (on-the-job training) is an ideal way to proceed, since actions speak louder than words to those who thrive on working alone.
Encouragement. Behind-the-scenes volunteers are quick to take an encouraging word to heart, and since they are naturally reluctant to jump into the middle of things, they need to know that their efforts are appreciated. Show them how they make a real difference in the life of the church.
Use plenty of positive reinforcement (praise, personal interest, humor) before, during, and after their service activity. Show them that you believe in their productive potential. Strive to build a personal bond with behind-the-sceners that facilitates future involvement as well.
Assistance. Make it easy for behind-the-scenes volunteers to succeed by running "administrative interference" for them: securing necessary resources and partners to facilitate their work, coordinating with the staff, reserving work dates on the church calendar, and so forth. The more hassle-free the work environment, the less stress experienced by behind-the-sceners. Keep in touch with the work progress of behind-the-sceners to wipe out morale-sapping roadblocks.
Management. The best way for deacons to productively manage behind-the-scenes volunteers is to function as a liaison with staff and committee leaders responsible for the ministry activity. Nothing fouls up progress quicker than the stress of having to "go through channels," attend formal meetings, check out the budget, and similar managerial headaches. The more behind-the-sceners can work in an autonomous manner, the better. That's why they duck the limelight.
The "average" pew sitter would like to serve the church without having to face stress, red tape, and politicized relationships. Reducing this stress is the key to getting more volunteers on board.
SIX SIMPLE QUESTIONS
Can you give a decent response to the questions below? If so, you can be one of those rare deacons who is able to get the most out of people at the grass roots level of the local church. The Lord has a plan to equip these precious people for service through you. Are you willing?
1. Can you identify three underutilized members of your church?
2. Would you be willing to develop a personal bond with them?
3. Can you identify two or three ministries in your church that need help at the grass roots level?
4. Would you be willing to "champion" the efforts of the three underutilized members in the identified ministry target areas?
5. Would you TEAM up with these three people via training, equipping, assisting, and managing?
6. Are you willing to patiently stick with your three people through thick and thin?