Serving Outside the Local Church

by | Sep 20, 2018 | Church Leadership, Church Planting

As a pastor, I had a strong conviction about staff members in regards to one way they should spend their time. I often encouraged our staff to volunteer somewhere in our community.

I never felt I could mandate it, but my dream for the church was that every staff member would find somewhere to serve – outside the church.

It could be:
    • Coaching a ball team.
    • Serving on a non-profit board.
    • Helping regularly at a food kitchen.
    • Periodically picking up trash along the road.
    • Visiting a nursing home often.
    • Working with a para-church ministry consistently.
    • Joining a civic group or community leadership program.
    • Reading to children in the public school system.

And, I tried to lead by example. My wife did also. We both served on numerous non-profit boards, we volunteered in several local ministries, and we even volunteered in our local visitor’s center once or twice a month.

We did this personally and believe in it, because it allowed us to get outside the walls of the church. It’s hard to actually meet unchurched people when we aren’t ever outside the church.

It also allowed us to be a part of and show support for our community. We could learn more about the people we were trying to reach. It’s hard to reach people you don’t know.

Perhaps more important to me, my philosophy, coming out of the business world into ministry was if we were going to ask others to serve in the church and community, we needed to set an example they could follow.

The truth is some of us get paid to serve in the church. (Even in my current job – I’m paid to do ministry. I need a place to volunteer.)

My question was always – where do I “volunteer”?

In addition to not being able to reach people you don’t know you can’t reach people you don’t love. Well, the more we love our communities the more we will want to serve our communities.

And, I’m convinced, it’s the best way for the church to remain viable in our communities today.

So, while as a pastor I didn’t mandate volunteering. I certainly did encourage it. (And, thankfully most of our staff did.)

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Ron Edmondson

I am CEO of Leadership Network. I was previously pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church, a church leader and the planter of two churches. I am passionate about planting churches but also helping established churches thrive. I love assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy, and life. My specialty is organizational leadership, so in addition to my role as a pastor, as I have time, I consult with church and ministry leaders. I have more than 35 years of leadership experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and have been in full-time ministry for over 15 years. I have successfully led the restart of one church and the planting of two churches, and now we are seeing God’s hand tremendously in church revitalization. I have a seminary masters and a master’s in organizational leadership. I also once helped lead (as an elected official) a mid-sized city, where I served as Vice Mayor and Finance Chair. The greatest times for me are with my wife Cheryl and our amazing adult sons, Jeremy, his wife Mary, and our youngest son Nate. Over 20 years ago, I founded a non-profit ministry called Mustard Seed Ministry, which provides devotional resources, conducts family, marriage, and parenting, and church leadership seminars. My INTJ personality on the Myers-Briggs indicator means I have big ideas, I love creative and critical thinking and I love to see progress. I am usually around people but crave downtime. For years I was usually training for either a half or full marathon. Running was my most productive thinking time. Knee problems in recent years have caused me to stop running, but I’m committed to finding the time I need to fuel my mind, body, and spirit. I write several times weekly on leadership, church, and family. To sign up for my blog on a reader or by email, click HERE. I do interact with my readers, so feel free to contact me. You can email me at am also on Google+ at, Twitter at and Facebook at My devotional site is