12 September 2007 ~ 5 Comments

Monterey Aquarium – Unpaid Staff (Part 1)

Several weeks ago my wife and I visited the aquarium in Monterey for the first time.  I love the ocean and I love aquariums!  It was amazing seeing the different animals and watching the SCUBA diver feed the fish in the kelp forest.

But there was something else that really caught my attention.  It was the staff.  Just about every staff member you saw was a volunteer.  I think I heard them mention at one point that the have over 1000 volunteers!  That is incredible!  then it started to bother me a bit.  I thought to myself, "They have tons of volunteers to run this place that people pay good money to come to, and most churches have trouble getting people to volunteer to help further the cause of Jesus Christ on this Earth!  What the heck?"

So that really got me thinking.  What is it that drives people to volunteer there?  I had a few thoughts of my own based on my experience, and then began dialoging with multiple people about it.  Got some really good thoughts from Dave Dunning over at Legend Theatrical. 

Based on that, I came up with three ideas as to why I think people give their time to the aquarium.  I think they have some implications for how we do things and how we view our volunteers.  Don’t know how accurate they are, but I thought I would share them with you for the last half of the week.  Let me know what you think.

In no particular order, the first reason I figure people serve as unpaid staff at the aquarium…

The Perks

From what I understand, the aquarium goes a long way to appreciate their volunteers.  There are special evenings where the aquarium is only open to volunteers and their families.  The aquarium seems to let them know they are valued, even if they are only there once a week for a four hour shift.

Unfortunately, many of our churches don’t do so well at his.  I’ve seen people get burned out on ministry at times because they were asked and asked and asked to give and made to feel guilty for even desiring acknowledgment of appreciation.  Yes, people should serve for the sake of serving Jesus.  But they should also know they are valued and appreciated.

Some valuable ways I’ve experienced to help:

  • When I was at Revolution we had an annual volunteer appreciation dinner and we went all out as a staff to make it fun and worth attending.  I think that went a long way to show the volunteers they mattered.  It’s a practice we have talked about importing here at CLC.
  • After a teaching I heard from North Point I tried to make it a point to write 3 thank you cards to volunteers each week.  Unfortunately, it didn’t last long, but I think I’ll get that going again.
  • I try to take people from my teams out for lunch or coffee on occasion with no agenda but to love on them and appreciate them.
  • And of course, just regularly (and genuinely) thanking volunteers can go a long way.

What are some ways that you let your volunteers know they are appreciated?  What perks does your church provide to refresh volunteers beyond just the "treasures in heaven?"  Or do you even agree that this is an issue?

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