Building Community

Engaging parishioners to share their time and talents

Every effective parish uses volunteers. When we talk about Catholic Stewardship we use the terms, “Time, Talent, and Treasure,” but do we really encourage Time and Talent as much as we focus on the Treasure?

In an ordinary parish, many ministries and programs simply would not be possible without parishioners stepping up to take responsibility for their success. How do we ensure parishioners are doing what needs to be done and that essential ministries are serving the greater needs of the parish and the general community?

Someone on the parish staff needs to oversee the work of these parishioners to ensure the vision and mission of the parish, as articulated by the pastor and lay leaders, is being lived out through these ministries. There is a fine line between control and enabling parishioners to be faithful stewards of their time and talent. With the many demands on our pastors and priests, it can’t be “Father ” who does it all.

With that in mind, the following are some thoughts on volunteer management of parish stewards:

Staff buy-in is important. Often, we hear folks say, “it will be quicker if I just do it,” but taking time upfront to encourage and involve others is a much smarter way to get things done. Most every staff person has to be taught and persuaded to incorporate parishioners in their work. They have to understand the value of volunteers and see, as members of the staff, the importance of their role as managers and supporters of those who volunteer.

As part of their job, staff will need to know that volunteers have a variety of motives for getting involved. Some will want to be involved in a particular ministry because they have a passion for that particular cause. Others want to be involved for the social interaction and the opportunity to meet other people who share their values. Whatever the reason, staff has to keep in mind that each person also brings a spiritual dimension to their volunteerism – each person is on their own journey of discipleship and trying to be a faithful steward. That is a common cause we can all support.

One sign of a successful parish is the number of ministries and the number of volunteers involved. Parish leadership that encourages staff and parishioners to identify and develop programs and ministries is inspired leadership – leadership inspired by the spirit of stewardship and collaboration.

In our work across the country with many parishes and dioceses, we at Guidance In Giving, Inc. encourage the involvement of volunteers. We strongly believe an empowered group of volunteers will provide the means for a successful effort and promote the involvement of a well recruited, well trained, and well supervised laity in sharing our ministry.