Arthur F. Blinci, ARM eMBA Vice President – Adventist Risk Management, Inc.

A child learns the words, “Jesus loves me this I know. . .”, a Pathfinder discovers the intricate beauty of nature during a field trip, church members reach out to a family in need at the food bank and youth help to build a chapel during a spring break mission trip. These are snapshots of unspoken heroes at work in our churches. Taking on responsibilities, performing tasks and taking risks on behalf of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Who are these unspoken heroes? They are the thousands of volunteers who make ministry possible on a 24/7 basis. Stop and ask yourself this question – How would your church, school or conference accomplish its mission if it had to depend solely on paid denominational employees? The fact is it couldn’t be done! Volunteers are the heart and soul of ministry, but do we take them for granted? As an elder, you have been chosen to be a leader in your congregation of this mighty army of Christian soldiers.

Using a quotation from Dr. Ken Blanchard, let’s set a vision for 2010:

“I think people (volunteers) want to be magnificent. It is the job of the leader (church elders) to bring out the magnificence in people (volunteers) and to create an environment where they feel safe and supported and ready to do the best job possible in accomplishing key goals. This responsibility is a sacred trust that should not be violated. The opportunity to guide others to their fullest potential is an honor and one that should not be taken lightly. As leaders, we hold the lives of others in our hands. These hands need to be gentle and caring and always available for support.” ~ (Situational Leadership II – The Article pg. 2) Are you up to this challenge?

How do we manage the risks associated with such a diverse army of volunteers? Often we neglect our duty by taking the stance that the Lord will automatically provide safety at all church-related activities. “Where there is no counsel the people fall; but in a multitude of counselors there is safety” admonishes King Solomon in Proverbs 11:14 (NKJV). Taking adequate time to address safety issues during church board, elders meetings and other ministry planning sessions should be a critical focus and part of your congregation’s strategic vision and plan for ministry. Allowing apathy to fog clearly focused plans to conduct all church activities in a safe manner is a sure prescription for a serious accident that can cause physical harm or bring financial hardship and loss to your congregation.

“Leadership begins with our thoughts even before our actions. When our minds and our attitudes are right, we position ourselves to lead well.” ~ (John C. Maxwell, The Maxwell Leadership Bible, p. 754.) Safety is a habit that is learned by example and repetition of doing the right thing the right way at all times. As an elder, the members of your congregation will be looking to you for leadership and guidance during church activities. If you cut corners or take un-warranted risks you can expect other church officers to do the same. The words you say and the things you do all establish the example others will follow. As a leader you have a responsibility to uphold the standards that will lead to the safe achievement of your ministry objectives. 

You need to be sure that appropriate training of volunteers takes place so each individual understands their roles and responsibilities. It is dangerous to assume that just because the person is an adult volunteer, they will automatically know what is expected of them in their given ministry role. Remember it takes training and practice in order to learn your duties, regardless if it is giving a bible study, supervising a children’s outing, setting up a fellowship dinner or conducting a church work bee. Your congregation needs to establish codes of expected conduct and safe practices that will be followed during all church activities. Accidents can happen at any time. A person’s reputation can be ruined by an unguarded act. Being well trained and prepared is the best way to create the proper environment so your ministries can thrive.

Adventist Risk Management invites you to visit our website: to learn more valuable safety information that can assist in your role as an elder as you plan for the numerous and critical roles that volunteers perform each and every day for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They truly are the unspoken heroes to whom we owe our greatest thanks for being – “That good and faithful servant;” who share of their time, talents and resources motivated by a loving heart.

Arthur F. Blinci, ARM eMBA Vice President – Adventist Risk Management, Inc.