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Building Up the Body: Encouraging, Equipping and Enabling Volunteers in the Church [Paperback]

Richard Steel
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

19 July 2013
Volunteering is the life-blood of local churches and this book is a comprehensive and practical guide to working with and encouraging volunteers. Looking at the key issues for small and medium-sized churches, Richard Steel offers realistic suggestions and guidelines that do not rely on large budgets and staff. He writes about how working with volunteers can be challenging, but is also intensely rewarding - and stresses the importance of helping them realise just how important they are in the bigger picture of God's mission. Building people up as volunteers is not just for the benefit of our individual churches, nor just for their personal development. It is about enabling the Church to reach out into all walks of society, all professions, all networks. It is about developing the skills and experiences that make us better people for building God's Kingdom in the world.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: BRF (The Bible Reading Fellowship) (19 July 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0857461753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857461759
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 184,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Following a Curacy in Hull (St John, Newland)(84-87) I worked as Religious Programmes Producer for Radio Trent (Nottingham and Derby) (87-92) then as Diocesan Communication Officer for Blackburn Diocese (92-97) when I played a part in establishing the Church of England's Web presence. As Communication Director for the Church Mission Society (CMS)(97-2005) I worked with many of the volunteers who were at its heart, leading the team directly responsible for their entire volunteer network, its support and resourcing.

I am now the Rector of a parish church in which volunteers do the great majority of the work. I chair a local community group that is run entirely by volunteers and am the Convenor of the Grove Books Editorial group for the Leadership series. Alongside this I have had academic opportunities to study leadership (Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership, Exeter, 2002) and try and keep abreast with current leadership thinking. I also have a Masters in the Theology and Ethics of Communication (Edinburgh, 1997) and am a regular contributor to BBC Radio Leeds

I have recently finished writing a second book, a detailed handbook on volunteering. It is called 'Building up the Body' and is to be published by BRF next July (2013)

Product Description


Volunteering is crucial to how we work as church, and how many church members express their service of Christ in the world. The focus of this book is on volunteering in church but applies more widely. Richard Steel offers a theological foundation and framework for volunteering. He also shares wisdom from a wide range of experience in tackling the many aspects required in volunteering in our post modern world. Anyone involved in developing volunteering will gain much from this book. Paul Butler, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham "Our understanding of leadership and management has mushroomed exponentially over recent years. It's wonderful how, even in faith organisations, enlightened notions such as leadership development, communities of practice, whole systems thinking, employee engagement, empowerment and alignment are now commonplace. I have noticed however, that there are two areas that have not kept up with the times. One is governance; and the other, the subject of this book, the organising of volunteers. Finally, a book that brings our understanding and practice of mobilising volunteers right up to date. And what's more, it's from a Christian perspective! In an era where people have become disillusioned with institutions, volunteers play a key role in helping transform churches from 'monuments' to 'movements'. If you are excited by this notion, this insightful book is a 'must read'." Patrick Goh, Head of Global Human Resources, Tearfund This is not a book to entertain you. Nor is it devotional , or expository, but it is practical, and that is its strength. Most churches and Christian organisations depend on volunteers but the leaders of such groups often have little training in how to recruit, manage and motivate their helpers. Richard Steel comes with a wealth of experience in both the church context and the voluntary sector to encourage us towards 'best practice'. This, he believes, will make for happier volunteers and enhanced contributions. Steel lays a good foundation in Scripture, a kind of 'theology of volunteering' before launching in to the many practical questions that arise - how to recruit people, the importance of training them, and the relationship between those who lead and their volunteers. He deals head on with some classic situations that arise. How do we confront poor performance? What to do with the person who is no longer capable of doing the job, but won't give up? Part of his answer is to make sure that there is a clear volunteer agreement in place, with role descriptions and reviews. He also stresses the importance of regularly thanking people for their contribution, and making it possible for the busiest volunteers to have sabbatical. To those in smaller churches this may sound a bit top heavy and feel like a lot of extra work, but to invest time in laying a good foundation for our volunteers can actually help us to avoid a lot of the conflict and heartache that so often arises because of 'informal' arrangements, differing expectations and confused communication. There is no doubt that volunteers who are in the right roles, who know what is expected of them, and are well-supported, can make an outstanding contribution to any church or organisation. This will not be the most exciting book you have ever read, but if you are responsible for volunteers, it may be the most essential. Reviewed by Tony Horsfall

About the Author

Richard Steel is rector of a medium-sized Anglican church in Huddersfield and also Rural Dean. He has led teams of volunteers as a producer/presenter of religious programmes for local radio, as Communications Officer for the Blackburn Diocese and Communications Director at CMS. He has also been involved in Scouting.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars clear direction 21 Aug 2013
By Lou
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I work with volunteers in both a church setting and in other areas too. The author gives clear direction to anyone whose role it is to attract, train, encourage and support volunteers. He gives examples of how his suggestions have been applied to real situations within his ministry. He makes many references to "building up the body" of volunteer workers within the church but his advice is just as relevant to those working with volunteers in other settings. This book offers a well-written mix of spiritual guidance and sound common sense.
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By revbids
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A wonderfully accessable and thoughtful exploration of the relationship between authority and genuine collaboration in the Church today. This emminently sensible, well constructed and practical reflection provides simple guidelines for all who are involved in working with volunteers at all levels of church life.
In this time of reduced income and reduced clergy numbers overall, Richard Steel recognises that the Body of Christ is totally dependent upon its volunteer members, yet the essential practice of working with volunteers is barely acknowledged in training for ministry.
Sadly it is true to say that although most paid members of the Church of England can spell 'collaboration' precious few of them have a clue as to what it actually means, let alone how to make it work.
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