Dr. Kennon Callahan writes that in today’s culture, people tend to be sprinters rather than marathoners. They will participate for short periods of time rather than making a larger commitment. Many people may want to be involved in the life of the church, but feel overwhelmed by the commitment needed to serve on a committee, teach Sunday School or even take up the oﬀering.
Congregations could actually encourage greater participation by oﬀering individuals short, one-oﬀ opportunities to serve. For example, a sprinter might ﬁnd it diﬃcult to commit to joining the choir for the full-year (or even half a year) because they don’t know if they can make weekly practices. But they might join a choir if invited to sing at Christmas, Easter, Pentecost or some other event. You might ﬁnd sprinters would even participate two to three times a year!
Likewise, a sprinter may be reluctant to become a Sunday school teacher for a full year. But they may sign up to teach one month of classes – or one class a month. They might volunteer to serve at a meal, rather than join the hospitality committee for a year. Or they might organize one community outreach event for the congregation.
We value and need the marathoners, who have the commitment and energy to provide consistent leadership for the church – and to coordinate all those sprinters! Churches need to be ﬂexible in the opportunities they oﬀer. The more people are involved, the stronger the congregational community will be.