This is our busy season. We are a small church in a small town, yet we do several community service projects throughout the year, but especially October through December. So I call it our busy season. This requires working with many volunteers. Getting everyone working together and on the same page is tricky. Yes, even for Christians!
Almost everything Gary and I do with people involves our knowledge of personality types. Back when we started, The Four Temperaments was the popular assessment. Since then we’ve learned the Myers-Briggs, C.O.R.E. MAP, and even Enneagram assessments. But by far the easiest to apply and remember is temperaments. Learning this helps me understand why others don’t think the same way I do. It helps me consider how I get volunteers to know what we are trying to accomplish and why.
Community service projects are so important to the healthy life of a small group. God tells us to serve others. He wants us to grow in compassion and empathy with others. It’s an excellent way to let the light of Jesus shine in the world. And to show unconditional love (that means serving someone without any expectation from them) to non-Christians is the best. Anything can become a service project from passing out cold bottles of water on a hot day to painting someone’s house.
When a small group has taken the time to discuss community needs, choose a project to focus on, and motivate everyone to participate, having enough volunteers won’t be a problem. Our biggest project during our busy season is our Thanksgiving Dinner Delivery. For weeks we canvas the town with flyers with a number to call to receive a free hot turkey dinner (including dessert) on Thanksgiving morning. We have volunteers collecting food and money, baking desserts, deboning and cooking dozens of turkeys, and gathering on Thanksgiving morning to cook a full meal. Next we form an assembly line where other volunteers who have collected the names and addresses hand off the assembled meals to driving teams to deliver over 300 meals. And we are done serving, have cleaned up the rooms, and gone home before noon.
Our ability to do this and other projects is because we motivate both the extraverts and introverts. The goal oriented people buy in, as well as the party people. The thinkers and the emotional relators all participate. Everyone gets stretched just enough to be challenged, yet works within the areas they are most comfortable.
Meeting the needs of the four temperaments will motivate every person in your small group. Here’s how:
- Sanguines in your group need to have a good time serving God. During discussion times and especially during the service project, make your time together as fun as possible. Plan your schedule to allow joking around and showing appreciation. Smile at everyone. Diffuse emotional upsets.
- Cholerics need to have a specific measurable goal. So for our project, we gave them research on the need for Thanksgiving day meals delivered, we laid out the complete plan of how we were going to accomplish this; and we told them what a successful Thanksgiving dinner delivery day looked like. They are happy to participate and meet these goals.
- Melancholies need to understand the cause you are serving. As we made plans, we discussed often how shut-ins and families who couldn’t buy or cook a Thanksgiving dinner were blessed by our efforts and attention. The melancholy types couldn’t wait to sign up to deliver the meals.
- Phlegmatics in the group wanted to see the relationships grow. These people want to spend time with someone else in the group, getting to know them better as they serve side by side.
Even if disaster strikes during one of your community service projects, if you meet your team’s needs to have fun, have set measurable goals, know the cause you are serving, and can grow together as a church family, your volunteers will be ready to serve again when the time comes.
Try this, and let me know how your next group project works out, won’t you?