Moses holding up his arms during the battle, assisted by Aaron and Hur. Painting by John Everett Millais. (Exodus 17:12)
One of the things I hear consistently about pastor burnout is overwork. Not just from the pastor, but from the entire pastor family. This is a big topic and I can’t cover it all in one day. I do want to give practical tips to help alleviate the unnecessary load whenever possible. Perhaps this will become “Tuesday Tips” as we progress.
Regardless of how large or small the congregation, a reliable volunteer force is a challenge to maintain. The 80/20 rule – 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people – holds strong across the board. This, however, is particularly evident in small congregations. There just aren’t enough people to serve when a church body of 75 has the same expectations as a church of 500. I do feel strongly that members need to be serving in some capacity as part of their membership – let’s not let consumerism rule in the sanctuary! However, from practical standpoint, you need help and you need it now.
My first suggestion in this area is INTERNS! Do you have a:
2) Community college
3) Technical college
4) Bible school
5) High school
6) Homeschool co-op
7) Community service organization
in your area? Chances are good that you do. Each of these organizations has some kind of internship/practicum/community service requirement in several areas. Listen close – THESE STUDENTS NEED A PLACE TO SERVE! It is a requirement carrying a grade and/or opportunity for recommendation. That makes them motivated volunteers. Why not be their place of service? Better still, these are unpaid positions and will not stress your already strained budget!
This will require a little bit of effort on your part, but will reap great rewards. Here’s the process:
1) Contact the schools and find out what programs they have requiring internship/practicum/community service
2) Consider how these programs could benefit your church – and be creative!
3) Find out what the program requires of you as supervisor
4) Let them know you are willing and ready to help out as a site supervisor
5) Find out what time commitment is required of the student – 8-10 hrs/wk is pretty common, and surely you can find that much for them to do
6) Work on a list of duties or projects within the scope of that internship that can satisfy that requirement. Make sure that you have creative opportunities to go with the daily (unglamorous) tasks.
7) Interview students and let them know that in return for their service they will be mentored and may receive a professional recommendation based on their performance.
The motivation for these students is an opportunity for real-life experience in their field of interest. You want to encourage them in their dreams, but also prepare them for reality. This is where your mentoring will come into play. It doesn’t have to be heavy-handed or serious. Fellowship in the trenches is a natural and very effective way to pour into lives that may be woefully short of role models. If all you give them is a herculean filing project for their task, both of you will be shortchanged. A positive experience will ease your load, build their resume, and will certainly be reported to others.
You need help; they need a place to serve. Let’s make this happen!
If you have more questions about interning, I’ll be happy to answer them.