Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe suggests strategies that can make it possible for those with significant time constraints to serve as church leaders — not merely to meet the church’s leadership needs but to help the individual know the satisfaction of serving.
“I’d like to get involved, but I just don’t have the time.” How often have you heard this response from a prospective leader? For many, it’s not just an idle excuse. There are likely people in your congregation who work 60-plus hours a week, commute long distances, and juggle a myriad of home and work responsibilities. Here are a few suggestions that may help individuals with significant time constraints serve as church leaders.
The reason to help busy people serve isn’t to meet the church’s leadership needs but to help the person know the satisfaction of serving, and hopefully see faith as means of bringing better balance to their life.
1. Use a remote meeting platform
There are several remote meeting platforms (for example Google Hangouts or GoToMeeting™) that can bring together people in different physical locations. A remote meeting platform permits people to participant without having to show up in person, if they are still at work or just getting home, for example. It is key to find a platform that works for the group and have everyone commit to using it. Keep in mind that good meeting etiquette is even more important with remote meeting technology. For example, having clear guidelines for how individuals will speak can prevent one person from dominating the conversation.
2. Define the commitment
Individuals who are busy often do not mind participating if the commitment is clearly defined. For example, the church needs someone to lead a three-week class on stewardship. The perfect person to do it works 12-hour days during the week. But this person may be willing to lead the class on a Saturday or Sunday — with the clear expectation that it will only be for three weeks and that the church will not tap her for six other commitments.
3. Ask people to commit to at least one thing each year
One idea that was very successful at a congregation I served was to ask everyone to commit to giving some time to the church each year. This is especially important for those who work 60-plus-hour weeks. The ask is for them to commit to at least one thing during the year. Typically, we did this as part of our stewardship campaign.
4. Teach stewardship of time
Saying “I’m too busy to serve” is akin to saying, “I don’t have enough money to give.” Often, it is less an issue of scarcity than of setting priorities. The church can help people regain control of their overly busy lives by teaching that time, just like money, is a gift from God that must be stewarded and used with intention. Encouraging “first fruits” commitments of time can help congregants prioritize service to God and others, rather than seeing church leadership as something extra to squeeze in when all other time commitments are fulfilled.
Ultimately, the reason for helping busy people connect to the church isn’t to meet the church’s need for volunteers or leaders. It’s to help the busy person know the satisfaction of serving, and hopefully see faith as means of bringing better balance to their life, instead of being just another thing on their to-do list.