Bill Allison of Cadre Ministries really does an awesome job with all the materials he generates for training and equipping volunteers for ministry. I learn a lot from him and the materials he gives away on his site and really respect his wisdom. (Now if I could only recruit him to work for my youth group…)
In a recent email discussion between us, he pointed me to one of his previous e-newsletters titled, “I don’t like volunteers.” His premise is that the term “volunteers” connotes “second best” or “not really that important” in comparison with paid staff. The example he uses is the difference between a used car and a pre-owned car. Both mean the same thing, but the connotations are different. So, Bill suggests using the term “ministry partners” instead of “volunteers,” stemming from the biblical principle that all believers are called to be full-time ministers, just that most just don’t actually get paid for it.
But I guess the term “volunteers” doesn’t really have any negative connotations in my mind, whereas “partners” makes me think of a business agreement. In that respect, my perspective is almost the opposite of Bill’s, but I’m not too confident in my opinion while I have tremendous respect for Bill’s opinion. What do the rest of you think? Read Bill’s brief article and then check out this pastor’s response to Bill’s recommendation. Post your opinion in the comments here. The difficulty is that it’s important to have balanced input from both “ministry partners” and paid staff, but I think most of my readers are paid staff. Sparking the discussion is better than nothing, though.
Also, take a second to place your vote in this poll:
Posted on September 12, 2007