How can we get people to volunteer more time to church? Our active members are getting older. [Answers, 9 March]
I am in full-time work, but am active in the community at large. Many people with greater family commitments may struggle to be so.
As an experienced volunteer, however, I sense that a key way to engage the young is the various award schemes, such as the Duke of Edinburgh scheme, and, here in Wales, the Welsh Baccalaureate.
Engaging the generation above may be more challenging, given domestic responsibilities, but may be possible in the context of sharing responsibility for the activities that their children engage in. The greater the engagement of the church with the community, the more people will feel drawn to volunteer.
The newly retired tend to be a rich source of volunteers, but can be encouraged further through the ownership that a sense of community in church can bring. Invite the University of the Third Age to use your halls and offer speakers. Have warm, well-lit, and attractive premises.
(Dr) Clive Morgan
This is a familiar cri de coeur, and raises important issues for the future well-being of every church. The difficulties in enlisting new volunteers who are ready and willing to give up more of their free time to the church is best approached by patient teaching and practice of Christian stewardship — of time and talents.
Encourage all church members to discern prayerfully and openly affirm their many and various skills and God-given abilities, and use them in personal response to his generous love. Preach on the principles of stewardship, along with St Paul’s teaching on “varieties of gifts” in 1 Corinthians 12.
When new people come to church, and when adults are prepared for confirmation — these are times to emphasise the many opportunities for dedicated church work. Although it will be time-consuming, it will be for them a privileged part of their commitment as members of the Church.
When newcomers do volunteer, make sure they are given a genuinely enthusiastic welcome.
(Canon) Terry Palmer
What is a town missionary? On my maternal grandfather’s birth certificate, it is given as his father’s profession.
P. J. P.
Address: Out of the Question, Church Times, 13-17 Long Lane, London EC1A 9PN.