One of my favorite (who am I kidding, they are all my favorite!) volunteers moved this past summer to a foreign country due to work. I’m happy for her because she gets this great experience, but I’m sad at the loss of having her on the team, and her friendship. Her leaving, in my book, is not cool.
Losing volunteers stinks. You train them, teach them vision, and then they move away. Is it worth it? I mean for real? Some youth pastors gain a leader for years, but for others, like myself, that’s simply not the case. People move in and out of my community constantly, with a 75% turnover rate every 4 years. This causes significant shifts in interpersonal dynamics.
This dilemma leads to the question of worth—is it worth it? Is relational ministry really worth all the time and investment, knowing the inevitable loss is coming?
Maybe we would do better just to float on the surface with people instead of creating relationships based on honest depth. Or build a ministry system with strict regulations and interchangeable positions but that lacked character, but we know that’s not right or what God called us to do. So how do we help ourselves swallow this gigantic pill of loss associated with volunteers moving on?
All it takes is a little cultural shift in our mind. Change your thinking to a broader, kingdom view and you will soon realize that while you’re losing a trusted soul in ministry, you’ve now trained a missionary to venture where you cannot. The mind shift is necessary and opens your ministry to new places. In fact, when you shift your thoughts you can realize that you are in essence training missionaries that will move away from you, but continue to impact for the kingdom.
Instead of zeroing in on my loss or your loss, we can see it as kingdom hope. Hope for incredible impact.
It’s like skipping rocks on a pond. If you influence it correctly and help propel it in the correct direction, that little rock will leave spheres of influence as it passes through new territory. It can make waves in places that you cannot touch standing there on the edge of the pond. All it takes is a little direction.
All a person takes is a little direction as they stay focused on God in their leadership, and they too will be able to make waves for God in communities we have no hope of influencing sitting in our current church.
It’s okay to mourn the loss of a volunteer who moves—whether to a new church or state or country, but you can mentally send off a volunteer to complete the great commission. Make disciples, baptize, teach … and GO!!
I want my leaders to leave trained, on fire for Christ and ready to do ministry in another church.
How do you want your volunteers to leave you? What do you want to be known for? My hope and prayer is that this cultural shift will lead you to great missionary training endeavors and peace in knowing your kingdom impact.