What is a disability ministry leader’s greatest resource? It is not a big budget, designated space, or even having the ear of the Lead Pastor. The greatest resource of a disability ministry leader is a bought-in volunteer. If volunteer teams do not grow at the same rate as disability ministry events and programming, there comes […]
What is a disability ministry leader’s greatest resource? It is not a big budget, designated space, or even having the ear of the Lead Pastor. The greatest resource of a disability ministry leader is a bought-in volunteer.
If volunteer teams do not grow at the same rate as disability ministry events and programming, there comes a tipping point. Those bought-in volunteers will be asked to just do a little bit more. Volunteers often continue to take on more because they have the heart to see things continue to grow. The reality, however, is the more and more the core group of volunteers is stretched the less effective the ministry becomes. Volunteers will surprisingly tap out without notice. They will give and give until they cannot give anymore.
So what is the answer to keeping things in a healthy balance for the ministry, its leaders, and those serving? It is the ability to say “no”.
It is okay to say “no” in disability ministry. In fact, it can be a very healthy and freeing thing to say “no” in disability ministry. Let’s consider a few areas where saying “no” can be the right thing.
Say no to extra opportunities if it takes you away from being able to worship. You can’t give what you don’t have. If you are not being poured into, eventually you will dry up and no longer be effective in serving. Know your limits and find ways to get fed spiritually if you miss a worship service.
Say no whenever you feel like you are taking on too much. You know your limits better than anyone else. It is okay to protect your time, your health, and your family. You cannot be fully effective if you are running on fumes.
Say no to volunteering situations where you are alone. It is never a good idea, for liability purposes, to volunteer solo. Protect yourself by volunteering in teams of no less than two people. If there comes a situation where a volunteer has to leave and there are children or adults who have not been dismissed yet pair up with another classroom nearby or grab someone who can step in until dismissal is complete.
Ministry Leaders & Volunteers
Say no to giving out your phone number. This is always a tough one because you genuinely love those that you serve. Trust me once you give it out that line is crossed and there is no going back. Encourage people to reach out to you in other ways, like on social media. Create a barrier to protect your personal and family time. Remind people that you can not always get right back to them.
Say no to giving up your personal space. There is a wide range of people in all sectors of life, including disability ministry. Some need their space and others seem to have no understanding of personal space. The key here is to be consistent. If you are going to allow hugs (which you don’t have to!) make sure it is a side hug only. A better policy may be adapting a fist or elbow bump only for making contact with others. Teach others about personal space by using a large Hoberman Sphere as an object lesson.
Say no to launching new programming or events without having enough volunteers. Leaders can often feel the pressure of growing attendance numbers in ministry. Never forget programs fail if not supported by a sufficient number of trained volunteers. Pushing your most valuable resource for the sake of growth may end up being counterproductive. Remember disability ministry is more like a marathon than a sprint.
Say no to helping individuals when it is time to refer. It is not that you do not care. It is exactly the opposite. You should say no because you want to get people the help they need. There are two good reasons to say no to helping individuals or families outside of ministry programming. First, if you are outside of your realm of expertise. For example, if someone needs professional counseling and you are professionally trained say no and refer. Second, if people who are coming to you for help are unwilling to change, take responsibility, or do something to make a difference in the situation it is likely time to say no. While you always want to help and make a difference there is a point where you become an enabler instead of a help. You will know when you hit that point.
It is Ryan's passion to equip and empower churches, organizations, and individuals to reach their disability communities for Jesus. Ryan comes to Ability Ministry with 15+ years of ministry experience. He previously worked at First Christian Church in Canton, Ohio as their full-time Disability Pastor. He also worked as a Church Consultant for Key Ministry. Micah 6:8 and Proverbs 31:8 best describe Ryan's commitment to life and ministry.