Monday, September 9, 2013

Respecting Our Volunteers Time

Yesterday I went to a training that was a complete waste of my time.  Although there was supposed to be one person leading it, there were really three who would talk over each other, and the "lead" could not control them.  Nor was he good at listening to people's questions, controlling comments from the floor, or even controlling random talking.  The room was set for at least 50, but they only had materials for 25.  The leader did have a sort of agenda on the board, and tried to follow it, but did not do a good job.  And they included information that they did not need to include that only added more confusion.  In addition, we were told it would be from 1:30-2:30, but I finally walked out at 2:50 and so have no idea how long beyond that it went.  It was clear that they were just totally unprepared and were just sort of winging it.

It was the type of meeting that would not take place in a business environment because businesses don't want to pay for people to sit in a meeting like that.  That is not to say that businesses don't hold worthless meetings, because I've sat in them, but usually they are at least somewhat well run.  So if businesses wouldn't do that because they don't want to pay their employees for it, why do we subject our volunteers to it?  Do we think their time is worth less than businesses do?

I think exactly the opposite should be the case.  We should respect our volunteers time more than do businesses, because they are volunteering.  We shouldn't think that because they are doing it for "free" that it is without cost, and therefore it doesn't need to be done well.  These should be the best run meetings that people attend, and if you give people an ending time you better keep it or recognize that you are going long and give me a reason to stay.

Now I would guess that the person leading yesterday's session has probably never been trained in how to lead a meeting, or perhaps he's never seen a good meeting run, and that blame lies with the church and its leadership.  Either we train our people to run meetings, and if they prove unable to effectively do it, which will often be the case, then we don't allow them to run those meetings, we put someone else in charge.

As churches we are dependent on our volunteers.  We couldn't do the work that we do without them.  So at the very least what we owe them in return is first to say thank you, which was never done yesterday, and second to respect their time and make meetings as short as they can be, run as well as they can be, and conveying the information that needs to be conveyed in as concise and clear a way as possible.  And if we can't do that then we either need to be trained or we need to be doing something else and let someone else who can do it.

There have been many meetings I have attended at the church, which really seems to excel at this, where I have said "well there's two hours I'm never getting back," and on a couple of occasions have even said "we'll there's a couple days I'm never getting back."  Wesley had a lot to say about being diligent with our time, and it's time that we began paying attention to that in the church again and respecting the time and the work of our volunteers.

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