Sunday, September 19, 2021

Volunteering for ministry

We encourage people to volunteer for ministry. To coordinate ministry programs, convene small study/prayer groups, to organise children's groups, etc.

This must be done in an orderly and godly way so that volunteers are properly identified, assessed, evaluated and checked for experience, motivation, capability, potential and risk. Risk because we offer ministry as a church with an implicit guarantee of capability and quality and don't want to betray people's trust in us.

In our state, if you want to work with children in any non-family arrangement, you must have a government OK to do this. This is a check of your 'record' if there is one, of any child related complaints, investigations and offences. This extends to any 'offences against the person' of adults.

At the moment, as we just get used to this last requirement...which is a good one, mind you, we've added it on as an extra on top of our normal Ministry Application.

However, this makes it look like an 'afterthought' on top of what we really want to qualify a volunteer. So, we are going to blend it into one system. This is how it will ultimately work:

1. initial move to volunteer: an interview with a pastor and/or existing senior volunteer or member of the church board, two people to interview. We have a set list of questions.

2. complete a ministry application which includes a set of profiling questions, experience and any training. It requires agreement with the Apostles' Creed, church statement of faith and ministry commitment (like a 'code of conduct' in business, but we aren't in business!)

3. our denomination runs a course in ministry practice. This concentrates on the spiritual, physical and emotional consideration of people (especially children, the young, the elderly, etc.), providing a comfortable and peaceful environment for people who attend the ministry, it also covers the basics of physical safety: first aid, general safety in the premises, what to do in an emergency, basics of communication, dealing with disagreements and having 'difficult' conversations.

4. we run a few courses for volunteers (volunteers are our focus of discipling development) in Bible, theology, church history, ministry practice and apologetics. We encourage volunteers who take more responsibility for ministries to obtain first aid and mental health first aid certificates, do our training in 'advanced ministry practices'. These are like 'management' and 'personal productivity' in a business, and our advanced communication course. We also have an afternoon seminar on handling emergencies.

5. for those who have taken a deeper service role with responsibility for running a ministry group, we offer quarterly afternoon seminars where people swap ideas, share their experiences and have a training spot.

6. lastly, we encourage all our volunteers to undertake external training in ministry: Bible/theology, education, pastoral work.

When a person first volunteers, we encourage them to undertake a program to read the Bible through completely, have daily personal devotions, and read a couple of basic Christian books. Your church will need to select books that suit your theology and practice. We start with Bishop Wright's Simply Christian.

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