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My Philosophy on Staff Members Serving Outside Church

As a pastor, I had a strong conviction about staff members in regards to one way they should spend their time. I often encouraged our staff to volunteer somewhere in our community.

I never felt I could mandate it, but my dream for the church was that every staff member would find somewhere to serve – outside the church.

It could be

  • Coaching a ball team.
  • Serving on a non-profit board.
  • Helping regularly at a food kitchen.
  • Periodically picking up trash along the road.
  • Visiting a nursing home often.
  • Working with a para-church ministry consistently.
  • Joining a civic group or community leadership program.
  • Reading to children in the public school system.
  • And, I tried to lead by example. My wife did also. We both served on numerous non-profit boards, we volunteered in several local ministries, and we even volunteered in our local visitor’s center once or twice a month.

    We did this personally and believe in it, because it allowed us to get outside the walls of the church. It’s hard to actually meet unchurched people when we aren’t ever outside the church.

    It also allowed us to be a part of and show support for our community. We could learn more about the people we were trying to reach. It’s hard to reach people you don’t know.

    Perhaps more important to me, my philosophy, coming out of the business world into ministry was if we were going to ask others to serve in the church and community, we needed to set an example they could follow.

    The truth is some of us get paid to serve in the church. (Even in my current job – I’m paid to do ministry. I need a place to volunteer.)

    My question was always – where do I “volunteer”?

    In addition to not being able to reach people you don’t know you can’t reach people you don’t love. Well, the more we love our communities the more we will want to serve our communities.

    And, I’m convinced, it’s the best way for the church to remain viable in our communities today.

    So, while as a pastor I didn’t mandate volunteering. I certainly did encourage it. (And, thankfully most of our staff did.)

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 22 Comments

  • I have been on our local Chamber of Commerce as a Board member for close to 5 or 6 years now and was asked to continue. My wife and I also volunteer at the local movie theater which has only one paid employee. We work in concessions and i am being trained in media. She serves during the daycare free movies. I’ve been asked to join the local Exchange Club but am hesitant to commit myself to too much since I got out of some responsibilities following my bicycle wreck. The youth pastor serves with Campus Life as well as WRE.

  • Mikael says:

    I really agree !

    Kingdom Kids Club Sweden
    Christian Sunday school for all children in the world

  • Don Livermore says:

    Ron, this is sort of in the same area but not really….Staff members "working" outside of the church…. maybe you could do a blog posting on that topic…

  • Ron! It's the other way round in my case. As I work for a non-church organization, I volunteer in the local church where I attend regularly in my town. Whatever form it may be, volunteering brings greater satisfaction to your mind and soul.

  • ronedmondson says:

    Usually now, I'm asked to serve on a local non-profit board. I'm just now getting back into serving with our Chamber of Commerce and Leadership Clarksville, which I was involved in for years when in business. As the church has grown, I'm more intentional in these areas.

  • jonathan says:

    I coach baseball and soccer teams that my kids play on; and recently have started fostering kids through CPS in my city. I volunteer off days to serve at my kids Elementary school, and work often with my family at a local food bank.

    I say all that to say that as a staff member at my church; I'm the only one that does so. I'm often looked upon as being un-committed to the things of my church, because I give so much of my personal time to things in my community. For my family it came down to this truth: For all the things the church is to us as a family, it is not always enough. And truth be told, that's allright. God is leading and using us within our local congregation in a great way; but he's also doing the same outside of our church walls.

  • Jeremy says:

    Agreed. I personally do volunteer outside of the church. Where I find it challenging to hold staff accountable in this is part time staff. They already have two sets of responsibilities and sometimes more. So, to ask them to add more to their plate, seems excessive. Am I off base on this?

    • ronedmondson says:

      No, I think you're smart to help people maintain their health. I think, though, that there are probably things that can be done even if it's a once a quarter or once a year activity. We have an annual trash pick up day in our community put on by our chamber…some could do this…

  • Rusty says:

    100% agree…our entire staff serves outside of the church in some capacity. Its not mandatory, but its part of our ethos. Its what we do.

  • Alex McLean says:

    I completely agree. Most church staffers that I know would love to be more involved but have nothing left to give after giving the church their all. It’s that unspoken “give everything you’ve got to make it happen” rule. We need to learn balance and this would be a great way to model it.

  • 4himcamper says:

    I totally agree w/ the church staff volunteering outside the church. It definitely sets a good example. I'm not sure if my church's staff does that,but it would be good. I know they go out into the neighborhood to let our church's neighbors know about events that we are having to welcome them to come. It makes me wonder what would happen if a church led by its pastors and staff would leave the building on a Sunday morning to serve, how the community would be impacted. Then multiply that by all the chuches in the community as well as the state & country.

  • Anonymous

    I have been thinking about this sort of thing a lot concerning church staff being out in the community. And I've come to conclude that the church staff must be out in the community, whether it be at a full- or part-time job or as a volunteer…or both.

  • @lantzhoward says:

    Totally agree.

    Where do you volunteer?

    I sent an email just last week to look into helping with a high school cycling club.

  • @jackfisher says:

    Agreed. It is too easy for church staff to be "whitewashed" by an internal focus on what we do each week. Serving in the community, with the right heart, can truly impact us as well as those we serve.