How Do We Transition Away from Volunteer Recruitment to Centering in Gifts?

by Rosalind Eaton, CVA

So what, friends, are your gifts? What effortlessly flows from you in such a way that you can’t help but offer it abundantly to others? What’s the groundwater beneath that structure of skill you spent years building, to succeed in a culture that sees no gifts, only transactions? And what would happen if you tapped into that groundwater and created new channels through which the river can run?

~Excerpt from Making Channels for the Streams of Love: Gifts as Spiritual Center by Rev. Molly Hammerhand


We all knew that the COVID-19 pandemic would bring a whole host of changes to the world, to healthcare, to how we interact with one another, and so much more. What we didn’t really account for was the physical and mental fatigue.

Everyone is tired. We’re coming up on two and a half years of living in a world on fire and we are all trying to reintegrate into being together in person while still being cautious and mindful of COVID protocols. Which means there is limited capacity for extras.

Volunteering is an extra.

It’s not going to put food on your table, keep a roof over your head, or put clothing on your back. These days, time is utterly precious and not to be wasted on things that don’t bring joy, contentment, or satisfaction, or things that just increase the exhaustion. So, who wants to take up more of their precious time serving on yet another committee that doesn’t seem to make a difference?

Things start to sound a little grim when it’s put this way. But it doesn’t have to be.

Instead, we roll into the changes, and reevaluate What Is Important. We let go of the idea of “returning to normal” and instead embrace the new sense of discovery that comes with learning about what really matters to each of us. We instead embrace the idea of individuals serving in ways that are meaningful to them, bring them joy, feed their passions, and nourish their spirits while supporting their community.

Rev. Hammerhand speaks about creating new channels that engage the gifts of each individual – the uniqueness that each person could bring to the table, rather than recruiting a warm body to fill a position. If we adjust our thinking to what each service position offers the person filling it, as well as the people or purpose the position serves, perhaps we can learn to better engage everyone involved while filling necessary roles in our congregation.

So, I ask you friend, what are your gifts? What do you do that brings you joy? How could you share these gifts within the church? How could you nurture others and foster new channels and relationships by simply being yourself? When thinking about the ministry, lay group, committee, event, program, etc. that you’re looking for help with – how can you use your gifts to find your joy, sense of belonging, and passions? How might others do the same?

Take a look at the volunteer roles you are trying to fill and the description you wrote about what is needed. Take a few moments to rewrite it in a way that brings the gifts of others to the center of your volunteer opportunity.

Are you looking for someone to provide customer service – or are you looking for someone who finds joy in helping others, in providing hospitality and compassion, and has the ability to put visitors at ease in new environments?

Are you looking for someone to make phone calls about social justice issues, or are you looking for a person comfortable with all types of people, with the ability to hold difficult conversations and guide others through directions or action items?

Are you looking for someone to be part of a luncheon team to feed 150 people one morning a month, or are you looking for people who find joy in cooking for themselves and others, people who enjoy the challenge of fast paced mornings that bring lots of people joy and nourishment by coming together to work a task together?

Lastly, take a look at yourself. Are you happy in the role you find yourself in? Is it time to reconsider your gifts and if you’re using your time and your talents in ways that bring you happiness?

How can you apply your gifts to available opportunities and feel nourished?

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