The decrease in physical attendance of congregants has also lessened the churches' volunteers.
Captured by The Christian Post, Carey Nieuwhof and Barna President David Kinnaman discussed the issue through their ChurchPulse Weekly Live podcast on August 23, alongside pastors Rob Peabody and Derek Sanford.
Kinnaman predicted that this concern may still persist even after things go back to "modified normal."
"I'm a firm believer that the Church exists not just for a bunch of consumers, but for participation, for vocation of all believers, the priesthood of all believers. The most effective churches actually engage people across a range of things to be prayers and intercessors, to be givers and generous ... to be on mission for Jesus in terms of evangelism, to be impacting the poor and the least of these and so many other ways," he added.
Peabody, co-founder of a non-profit group Awaken Movement, said that getting people to church in the new normal is a challenge.
Sanford, lead pastor at Grace Church in Pennsylvania, stated that seeing volunteers during online services is a way to entice other congregants to volunteer again.
".... I think that's an important aspect. I think we have to go overboard to show people here are some volunteer opportunities, here's what it looks like, here are the safety measures we have in place," he added.
Kinnaman shared about the effect of skepticism on churches, which he said is caused by the various issues that emerged among the leaders, over engaging people to volunteer. He said that it is important to realize that people tend to gauge the reasons when they are asked to volunteer, whether the leaders are just doing it to serve their own purposes or really about helping the individuals find their calling in the ministry.
Further, he pointed out that churches need to build their credibility with the millennials and Gen Z.
Sanford believes that it is important for a church to have a "unique thumbprint" and help the volunteers find their "localized calling". In this way, a congregation will have a "localized impact" in the community and not just a copy of other churches.
Kinnaman agreed with Sanford, calling the "copycat ministry" as a plague. He also stated that churches need "real innovative thinking" in building their ministries, adding that congregations with a lot of programs will not be able to run them with excellence.
Peabody emphasized that members should also volunteer on weekdays, not just on Sundays.
Moreover, he observed that people usually respond when asked to help about something. All the Church has to do is to identify its needs and of the community where the congregants can help.
"I think most people in our churches, if you go tap them on the shoulder or knock on their front door and say, 'Hey, we got a need down the street,' somebody would go and be compelled to action. But the issue is because we don't get practical a lot of times, [we] have no clue what the needs are in our local communities [or] congregations."
Sanford revealed that in their church, they treat their volunteers like staff by giving them authority, which made them feel honored. This practice, he said, has enabled the church to do more in ministry than it normally can.
For smaller churches, Peabody shared that they can make use of an online platform, like the software they offered for free during the onset of pandemic, which will enable them to do their ministries with only limited volunteers.