How quickly do/should new members get involved?

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Mendalla

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Yes, this is relevant to my investigation of a possible new church home, but I think it's a broader question, too.

In your experience, how quickly do new members "plunge in" and start doing things? Do you think they should "plunge in" or just wait a while? How welcome are offers of help/support from new arrivals in your world?

Past context: When I started attending the Unitarian Fellowship of London many years ago, one of the first things I noted was that their website was a bit of a shambles (okay, that's an understatement). I did some asking and found out that the guy who started it had moved away and no one had really taken it up yet. So, since I knew a bit about HTML coding and web design, I took it on. Was not a member yet, had barely ever been there (a couple times in the nineties, a couple more prior to starting to come regularly, and had engaged one of their lay chaplains to do a naming for LIttle M). Also started preaching fairly early on, starting with a summer service the following summer IIRC. Was well-received in both roles and the contributions were quite welcome. Soon I was on the communications committee (still not a member) and editing the newsletter. Then I finally joined after they called a minister that I was quite enthusiastic about.
 

mgagnonlv

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I don't think there is a single answer. How comfortable are you, not only with the group, but also with the structure? And what would be your involvement? I have moved a few times in the last 30 years; sometimes by choice, other times because the church closed, and each time, I tend to be at work within less than a month. But those are communities that I knew (to a point) beforehand, and therefore I had an idea what I could do and how well it would be accepted.

If I were to jump into a totally new community (ex.: let's pretend I were to move to Calgary), I would probably wait a bit more before I get involved, but I'm positive that it would take me less than 2 months before I get involved...
 

ChemGal

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I find with some groups they can be quick to ask a new member to take on a volunteer role. I think that's too much.
I think it's great to ask new people for things just to get them included, but something that is more of a full on role is too much. If they actually want to volunteer, that's different.
 

Nancy

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When I lived in a different community, I joined the church choir immediately. From that group, I ended up volunteering for a variety of church-related projects. It actually helped me get to know the community better and develop good friends (30 years ago and some are still good friends to this day, despite the distance between us).
 

BetteTheRed

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From personal experience, I kinda "tested my immersion", and now I do as much/a bit more than I feel like. My first couple of jobs were to get a feel for how I could fit in. First, "lay reader", then, "lay reader scheduler/co-ordinator", which I still do, pastoral care (weaver - part of a phone chain) - not a good fit. I'm currently leader of Faith Formation & Christian Ed - not a great fit for an atheist, lol, have been board chair. Do tech team stuff - can run projectors and do basic/no more than 3 mics sound board. I'm also a (maybe previous) member of the nominating team, so I'm sorta interested in how to recruit people at the right time for the right job.
 

KayTheCurler

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I was invited to join a congregation (to serve in the choir). I waited to be asked to contribute in some other way - for a year. Nothing happened so I started asking and pointing out that I would like to help with various things as I heard about them. Always got kind of brushed off - that group is full, Mary doesn't need help with that, if someone wants your help they will ask. Eventually I quit attending.
 

BetteTheRed

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Oh, Kay, yours was a congregation that does not know what it's doing. A "real" nominating team "mines" for help. Honestly, there's four or five of us, sponsor a "volunteer job fair" in Oct/Nov, meet 2X monthly December and January, call, e-mail and talk to one another in the meantime, and we've got our Congregational Directory in hand. We ACTIVELY look for the right spots for new people, sometimes overwhelm them...
 

PilgrimsProgress

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I think we handle this well at the mission church I attend.......

Nobody is asked unless they've previously volunteered. If you volunteer you are always asked to do -in the area you volunteered -within a couple of weeks. It's a given that nobody 'owns" a particular chore -if there are more volunteers than are needed, we spread it around.
I offer to do readings and preach every 6-8 weeks. I could do the liturgy (I learnt how to do it at our college) but I prefer to let others do it.
Our minister has a passion for empowering those in the congregation. This means we don't just have the most competent readers etc every Sunday. One of our congregation has learnt to read as an adult , he is so happy whenever he gets to read a psalm. (If he can't read a particular word, the minister just helps him with it).
I have a young friend in the congregation from Shanghai. She is learning English -but has trouble both pronouncing and reading English. Last Sunday I saw her sitting in the pew scribbling in Chinese (Mandarin?) over the English words. She told me that, for the first time she was going to read for us -and would I help her beforehand with the English pronunciation? I really admire her, because, apart from the language difficulties, she is very shy.
I spoke to the minister -and he said he would support her. Afterwards, we broke out into spontaneous applause, as she made her way back to her pew.

I call that the spirit in action.......
 

BetteTheRed

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Yes, I am the lay reader co-ordinator, and our spirit is the same. If you'd like to read, ask me. I put out a call for volunteers once or twice a year, I put it on the list of volunteer ideas at the job fair, etc. I have never rejected a person who volunteered to read, and some have more facility than others. Only thing I check when I put together the yearly calendar is that I wouldn't put a weak/unknown reader at the pulpit on a "major" Sunday - Easter, certain Xmas services, Anniversary Sunday, etc., not just because it looks bad to visitors but because it stresses people out more.
 

revjohn

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It depends.

It depends on the willingness of the new member and the leadership development within the Community of Faith.

So gung-ho newbies will want to dive into things sooner than more cautious newbies.

Communities of Faith with good leadership development will want an idea of the gifts and temperament of the newbie before bringing newbies into the leadership structures of the Community of Faith.

Communities of Faith with poor leadership development will leap at the change to get fresh blood on a team/committee and not do any real discernment or communication and then complain when that fails.

And then there are the closed Communities of Faith which will resist providing newbies with meaningful participation for fear that they want to take over and change the Church.

I would never actively discourage anyone from deeper participation in the life and work of any Community of Faith. I would invest time and energy in finding a good fit for their enthusiasm and talents.
 

BetteTheRed

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Agreed. Finding good fit for talents often requires a particular combo of discernment and connection.
 

Luce NDs

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Should people judged as lost souls be expelled or denied as stranger than the option? Beats me ...
 

Luce NDs

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People should not be judged as "lost souls".
Alas ... yet still they are although some powers will state they are not judgemental ... in the sense of vort ... these words are engaged and may take off into space with silent dolittles! Hang man's verti braes!

That's arrested ... or Bung'd according to Parker & Hart! Verbally clueless or without word to express? The dark midnight sun ... with singular ups and downs!

There have been several FB presentations on how we should be self-concerned and forget foreign neighbours ... distilling hate into the Golden Rule as sublimity! SUS-la ... or it is below the autonomous sensations ...

It is a vast enigma to me how a man of the cloth can say that gospel unchangeable and then we see there are 13 + versions since the Vulgate that occurred on the impact of BC with AD ... an overhead cognizance ... is there more in the aboriginal or initiatory stage?

In exorcism it is all cut out or trimmed down source of sponta Naivete ... thus the brute evolves as AD vent ... expect Ur to blow ... that's the natural anima sin us ... beyond that Anna Muse ... in reflection if you can get beyond Ide ... that primal spot that dogs ...

The vast unknown void had to know there was something to the isolated alternate ... autonomous Ide? Always that smell of what's missing as adden*dum ... sometimes indicated by integral sic! Expect always to have something in err ... even Eire ...

There are always other words for it ... that lack eh? I just don't have enough 've Ide ... in the dark silent mediation ... the passing of icons!

The sensation can be significant if left alone ... separation anxiety ... mental disordering? Thus it left ...

I was reminded of this over the weekend when advised by a born again ... that I was excluded from their cricket ... nothing cliqued!

Its a bug gum state ...
 
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Luce NDs

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If one rags on this incessantly ... is that eternal criticals? Tyrants hate to see corrections ... like what is happening with the market being fingered!

Digi Titus ...

Playing with word can be eternal and indelible ... an abstract to a mass! Incompleteness?

ABBA de choices we've made under the influences of power ... sic! Poorly understood Eire ...
 

KayTheCurler

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Some, probably most, newbies don't have their eyes set on governance roles . Some (like me) just want to join with a small group as a way to learn who people are. I offered to help with fundraising events etc and kept getting turned down. I tried to interest others in a Book Group with no takers (and later found out that one was started without extending an invitation to me). It didn't occur to me to talk directly to the ministry personnel as this appeared to be a congregational issue. On the other hand the ministers didn't approach me either.
 

paradox3

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Some, probably most, newbies don't have their eyes set on governance roles . Some (like me) just want to join with a small group as a way to learn who people are. I offered to help with fundraising events etc and kept getting turned down. I tried to interest others in a Book Group with no takers (and later found out that one was started without extending an invitation to me). It didn't occur to me to talk directly to the ministry personnel as this appeared to be a congregational issue. On the other hand the ministers didn't approach me either.
** shakes head at this **

Many churches are not quite as welcoming as they perceive themselves to be (IMHO) but this has got to be the worst story I have ever heard. It is hard to understand why your offers to help with fundraising events would be rejected. Ditto for those who overlooked you when they got around to starting a Book Group. Wow!
 

BetteTheRed

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Absolutely agreed, P3. That ex-congregation of Kay's sounds positively toxic.

I really wish you lived close, Kay. You would just love our church, I think, and there would so many things you'd enjoy. And one thing we need is a book club, but I've got this new rule that I don't pick up a new job until I set down an old job, and that's not happening right now.
 
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