When your church is just being started, the temptation is to take all the help you can get. While this is mostly, if not completely, true when it comes to finances, it is not always the case with mission teams filled with volunteers. Without proper planning and leadership, a large group of helpers can actually put you in a hurt. Let me explain.
Match the Task and the Team Appropriately
Some tasks that a new church needs completed do in fact require a massive amount of manpower. Neighborhood canvassing or flier distribution takes a lot of people and effort, but it’s grunt work, and there isn’t much reward. It’s just branding. The mission is to get the church’s name out there and the logo recognized.
The truth of the matter is that hundreds of people are not going to show up at your church because a youth team from the Bible Belt handed out 10,000 fliers over 10 square miles and consumed hundreds of bottles of water. It is a hard work, and a good one, but there is often a low visible return. You must manage expectations for yourself and the team.
Sometimes Less is More
Sometimes you only need two to six volunteers. For instance, our church didn’t need the entire team of 40 volunteers who canvassed neighborhoods on Friday and Saturday to help us for services in the school we meet in on Sunday morning. We can effectively utilize two teens or adults for Kids Ministry, two to four for set-up and tear down, and maybe two to three for ushers or greeters. To have 20-40 people standing around with no job while your normal team is trying to set up is frustrating for everyone.
We definitely want teams to experience our Sunday morning gathering, and we definitely can use some help. But, too many untrained volunteers is counterproductive. If you want to utilize mission teams effectively, determine how many it takes to do the job and communicate it clearly to the mission team leader.
Flexibility is Key
Lastly, it’s important to note that healthy newborn churches are like healthy newborn babies—they are really flexible. They have to be. New churches live in ambiguity. Everyone and everything about the new church is just that—new!
New things don’t have track records. You have no idea how it’s going to go. Conversely, older churches and the teams they send generally aren’t as flexible. They don’t have to be. It is not in the Bible, but it is true: blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape. Having a team that can go with the flow is a huge help to a young church plant.
Don’t get me wrong, mission teams are a blessing. We love that people are excited about our church and want to help us in planting it. That said, make sure you get the right team for the right job in order get the best results. And as for mission teams, be mindful of the situation and stay flexible so you can make the biggest impact possible with your time. Plans may change, but in the church planting world that could be a golden opportunity.