VOLUNTEERS & Research reveals 41% started because someone already involved invited them to join. #NationalSurveyOfCongregations

by Helen Gibson, LifeWay, 7/27/18

(According to) the 2015 National Survey of Congregations …, released in 2016, the most recent year such data is available, shows around 1 in 4 Americans, or 24.9 percent, said they volunteered at least once over the course of the year.

Women tend to volunteer more than men, at a rate of 27.8 percent to 21.8 percent…

Americans 35 to 44 years old and those 45 to 54 years old were most likely to volunteer, at rates of 28.9 and 28 percent, respectively. On the other hand, people 20 to 24 years old were least likely to volunteer, at a rate of 18.4 percent.

Those with higher education levels are also more likely to volunteer. Among respondents 25 years old or older, 38.8 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher said they volunteered, while 26.5 percent of those with some college or an associate degree, 15.6 percent of those with a high school diploma only, and 8.1 percent of those without a high school diploma said the same.

Whether or not someone is married with children may also affect the likelihood that they volunteer. Around 1 in 3 married people (29.9 percent) said they volunteer, while about 1 in 5 of those who’ve never married (19.9 percent), and 1 in 5 of those with other marital statuses (20.2 percent) said the same. Parents with children under the age of 18 were also more likely to volunteer (31.3 percent) than people without kids (22.6 percent).

(Some takeaways:)

(Make it easy to volunteer)  Around 4 in 10 volunteers said they got involved with a particular organization by approaching that organization themselves, so make it easy for your church’s members to figure out how they can get connected to certain ministries.

(Current volunteers should be encouraged to recruit more volunteers) Another 4 in 10 volunteers said they started volunteering after being asked by someone else — and most often, that was someone who was already involved in that organization. Encourage those who are currently serving in a particular ministry area not only to keep serving, but to invite others to join with them….

(Serving = discipleship)  Daniel Im, LifeWay’s director of church multiplication, described it as a way to grow spiritually on a recent volunteer recruitment episode of the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast.

“When you serve, that’s actually how you become more like Christ — because that’s what Jesus came to do,” Im said. “So why don’t you do what Jesus did, and why don’t you grow and become more like Him?’”

Read more at … https://factsandtrends.net/2018/07/26/data-paints-a-picture-of-volunteerism-across-the-nation/

VISION & A review by missional coach Jim H. of “Church Unique” by Will Mancini.

Review of Church Unique (Will Mancini) by Jim H. 2018 Missional Coach candidate, 4/2/18.

Over the last month, I not only read this book, I studied it.  My Life Coach recommended the book last summer and when I had the chance to read it for “credit” I took it.  Since I’m moving closer to working with churches in need of revitalizing I’ve been looking for philosophical positions and practices on the best way to reverse churches.  Although this book is not really a philosophical book, it does begin with the idea that every church has a unique role or character that makes it different from every other congregation.  

The book has four sections of which I will identify bullet points that made an impression.  The sections are:

  1. Recasting Vision
  2. Clarifying Vision
  3. Articulating Vision
  4. Advancing Vision

Recasting Vision:  The idea behind this section is to redeem the visioning process for churches.  We made it too much into a “canned” process.  Leadership can restrict vision which is the lifeline to any church.  

  • Every church is a unique, but they’re not valuing their uniqueness.  Discovering their uniqueness can be hard work and humbling.  They may have to be realistic of their uniqueness, but they need to be comfortable in their own skin.
  • Church culture is defined by a list of qualities from its people.  The uniqueness of a church is equal to its culture.  This is not defined by a church service as much as the interacting thoughts, actions, attitudes and beliefs.  The sociological impact of a church is greatly underestimated.
  • Strategic Planning can kill a church!  Things I learned:
    • Too much information can kill vision!
    • Silos in the church are killing the team atmosphere.  Finding ways to break down the competitive nature within ministries and people is critical.
    • Leadership blinders greatly hampers a churches capacity!  My big take away on this is focusing on preparation and not planning.  Also, leaders and churches can be arthritic or adaptive.  
  • Space often times defines a church and its vision which should be combated.  Four walls don’t define us, so learning to resource those four walls to serve vision is important.

Clarifying Vision:  Once we discover that unique vision, how do we communicate it and keep people attune to it.  

It will take too long to go through all these clarifying characteristics, but it does seem to match other discovery techniques.  

  • Clarifying vision is about looking to the past as much as the future.
  • Clarifying vision requires careful consideration of strengths and limitations.
  • Clarifying vision is as much about identity as it is methodology.
  • Clarifying vision is always about what God is already doing.
  • Clarity makes leadership credible

Articulating Vision:  

  • Vision Frame:  The way Will Mancini broke this portion of the book down was helpful.  I will be studying this further to possibly integrate it into my own processes.  It does help to “frame” vision since it can be all encompassing. 
  • Mountain Top + Milestones:  this was also a helpful concept to process.  It is understandable that people need to see the big picture, but to create successes along the way to keep people motivated and moral up.

Advancing Vision:  Once the vision has been clarified and articulated, the messiest part is advancing it.  Life happens and people get distracted.  

  • My job as a leader is to constantly align, attune, and integrate the vision into the minds and hearts, actions and passions, and roles and organization charts of the Church Unique.
  • This is the part that scares me the most.  My strengths lie in the previous parts and not as much in this area.  I know I need to develop these skills.  God may put me in this role again to do just that.

VISION STATEMENTS & How I have seen them underused, overemphasized & mostly ineffective. Here is the alternative…

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 4/13/18.

Yearly a handful of missional coach candidates shadow me on my consultations (more info here if you are interested in being considered for next year’s cohort).

Recently, the missional coach candidates and I were discussing the use, misuse and impact of mission and vision statements.  First, I will share my personal conclusions from having worked with hundreds of churches on their mission and vision statements.  Then (below my comments) you will find the discussion that inaugurated these conclusions.

I wrote:

If you have read my books, you probably know I am not a fan of Vision Statements (though I discuss them and the differences with Mission Statements in most of my books).

Here is why.
I agree with everything said (below, by the missional coach candidates I am training).
  • Vision Statements help visualize a preferred future,
  • create metrics for goal attainment,
  • etc.
But, I have seen them generate little use in these areas, despite pleas and pushing from the leaders.
They often consume too much time, because I suspect, Christians like philosophizing and theologizing more than practicing something.

So, I have come to conclude that John Kotter has the answers.  He states that visions (created by a collation) are temporary and elastic things.  In other words, they are tied to a project.

  • Now, I’m not saying that vision statements aren’t needed.
  • They are, but they should be more flexible, temporal and more quickly created.
 Yet, mission statements are different. They deal with unchangeable values (and for Christians, our theology).  They shouldn’t change.  But, the local church usually doesn’t need to craft them, because the denomination or network has usually done that for them.
So, my recommendations to clients based upon my experiences over 25+ years.
  1. Have a Mission Statement that defines your theology, history and polity.
  2. Create multiple Vision Statements as time and projects dictate.

(Below is the conversation among my 2018 Missional Coaches candidates on this issue):

On Apr 13, 2018, at 11:10 AM, Tim W. wrote:

I did my graduate degree in business in the days when the competitive edge of Corporation, Inc. rested in these kinds of organizational tools. The church world then adopted the language and approach. My bias is still towards using these. I see them as critical pieces in organizational design BUT I also do not want to spend copious amounts of time/energy/money generating these statements. More to the point, if a congregation does have them, then they need to embed them deeply into the heart of the church. AND, if they are not authentic and missionally-driven statements, then it’s pointless anyway. :))

On Apr 13, 2018, at 9:01 AM, Mark C. wrote:

I would agree on many of your points. The fact that what the local church does is actually their vision is truer that what we or they want to believe.
In most cases the Great Commission Vision has been neglected in place of a Great Coffee Dream.
Here to surV
On Wednesday, April 11, 2018 9:19 AM, Tim W wrote:
Hi all … I want to chime in on some of the mission/vision statement comments in this string from my experience as a denominational exec.
I agree that churches can spend too much time on massaging vision and mission statement(if they even understand the difference/function of these two tools), but I also thinkmany churches spend too LITTLE time on them as well. There must be a balance. When properly formed and used, these statements provide a great deal of agenda harmony, synergy in the organizational system, clarity of priority in budgeting, effectiveness in staffing right, and a host of other things. Most importantly, it removes the fuzziness in the minds of the congregation as to congregational direction. In fact, when done well, the very process of drafting a statement together reveals gaps, relational deficiencies (both personal and organizational), and then creates energy, excitement, optimism, and makes strategic planning more robust. Of course, these statements in themselves can’t do anything for the church; it’s all in the way they are employed into the organizational system.
The truth be told, though, most churches already operate from vision, but it’s usually informal, imprecise, and carried by a few power brokers in the church. A couple of great questions to ask when conducting a first consult with the congregation is this: if your church was at its very best, what would this look like? where would she spend her time and resources? These questions do not directly address the vision question because if you ask “what is your vision?” most people will either recite what they read on the bulletin cover or will look dumbfounded. When asked outcome oriented questions, however, a picture emerges and this picture is the imperfectly constructed vision.
Ultimately, the vision statement is a tool to help organize for mission—no more and no less. It’s power is in its simplicity to direct and excite and it’s contribution to the real-world ministry of the church.
Just my thoughts…
 Read more of the ideas about mission and vision statements that I’ve come to embrace after seeing them in practice here.

VOLUNTEERS & What’s the prescription for your church’s role-to-task ratio? #CharlesArn – why your church community has too many tasks & not enough leaders to implement them.

There may be many factors involved in why your church community has too many tasks and not enough leaders to implement them. Dr. Charles Arn dives into this question and offers solutions for how to create a better role-to-task ratio for your congregation. (Excerpted from the Society For Church Consulting’s Church Staffing Summit 2015.)

Video: What’s the prescription for your church’s role-to-task ratio?

by Charles Arn
There may be many factors involved in why your church community has too many tasks and not enough leaders to implement them.

Watch more at … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/videos/whats-the-prescription-for-your-churchs-role-to-task-ratio

VISION & How to improve clarity and impact: a video introduction #LEAD600

In my courses, my students evaluate existing vision and mission statements with a goal of improving clarity and impact. To assist them in the evaluation, I’ve recorded a video introduction to their homework on evaluating vision and mission statements (LEAD 600: Strategic Leadership and Management).

©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.


VISION & Video Introduction to Praxis Assignments of Week 4 of LEAD 600

I record video introductions to weekly assignments for my students.  Here is an introduction to the topic “Evaluating Mission & Vision” from LEAD 600: Missional Leadership (typically week 4, but may vary due to student needs).

©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.

VISION & Good/Bad Vision Statements Compared

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 3/15/16.

Clients, students and seminar attendees often ask about what a good vision statement looks like. First let’s define what a vision statement is and then look at good (and bad) examples.

Here is a concise comparison between mission and vision statements.

“Envisioning begins by asking ourselves ‘what do we do?’ (our mission statement) and continues by uncovering, ‘where to we believe God is calling our church to go in the future’ (our vision statement).” 1

Here is a fuller explanation. 2

FIGURE ©Whitesel HOUSE DIVIDED 5.1 Mission & Vision Statement Compared p 107 copy

FIGURE ©Whitesel HOUSE DIVIDED 5.1 Mission & Vision Statement Compared p 107.b

Here are some good and some better examples: 3

The following are sample vision statements that have been generationally shaped to promote a Tri-Gen. format (italics are added here for emphasis):

  • “We want to turn pre-Christian people of all generations into fully devoted followers of Christ, through relevant teaching and up-to-date worship.
  • “To build a caring and compassionate congregation that loves people of all ages into a relationship with Jesus Christ through acts of kindness.”
  • Our vision is to reach all generations within the tri-state area with the Good News through culture-current forms of evangelism, worship, teaching and nurture, and to work with other congregations to accomplish these goals.
  • To provide for (city) a Christian fellowship offering teaching and worship opportunities geared to each generation, while respecting our differences and exalting our Lord.
  • The vision of (church name) is to present Christ to the people of (city) in a caring and creative way, that will make disciples of all ages; while offering them a forgiving and open-hearted environment.
  • To simultaneously meet the needs of all generations of people in our community, through biblical teachings and personal lifestyle that will create social action, conscience and responsibility.
  • Our ministry goal is to build relationships to all generations through Christ-centered teaching, quality worship, heartfelt care, personal discipleship and credible leadership.
  • Our church vision is to become a lighthouse to the greater metropolitan area, by addressing the needs of all generations though parallel worship, teaching, and care ministries; which will exalt and honor our Lord Jesus Christ.

And here is a (humorous) example of a bad vision statement:

“First Covenant Church exists for the passion and purpose of inspiring, discipling, equipping and sending out Christ followers with the destiny of transforming the world to the glory of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and fostering a graceful yet convicting church environment in which people of all faith experiences and backgrounds are molded into the image and reflection of Christ, together creating a God-honoring community of authentic worshipers deliberately focused on reaching their community, the nation, the next generation of believers and the world through missions works, innovative programs and prayer.”  And that’s just the first sentence… Read More

You can download below a chapter on the difference between mission, vision and value statements from my book A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church.  If this helps you consider supporting the publisher and the author by purchasing the book: House_Divided_Chpt5_Vision©BobWhitesel


  1. Bob Whitesel, A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church (Abingdon Press, 2000), p. 240.
  2. ibid., p. 107.
  3. ibid., p. 108.