A resource-packed Web site recently launched a campaign to equip churches for national volunteer month in April and for volunteer week later this month.
The site, ChristianVolunteering.org, offers a searchable directory of nearly 3,000 volunteer opportunities in 1,800 organizations aimed at equipping churches to volunteer in their communities.
ChristianVolunteering.org's partners include big-name Christian ministries such as the Salvation Army, World Vision, Gospel Communications, the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, Campus Crusade's Here's Life Inner City, Christian Community Development Association, and the Urban Youth Worker's Institute.
"The purpose of this campaign is to get more volunteers from churches serving out in the community with the goal placing over 1 million volunteers in the next ten years," the Web site explained.
The campaign highlighted the discrepancy between faith-based volunteer activities within church walls and volunteer work in the community.
According to the United States Department of Labor, faith-based volunteers are the largest pool of volunteers, representing over 34.8 percent of volunteers. The value of the time donated by faith-based volunteers is $51.8 billion each year in the United States alone, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Department of Labor.
But very little of this volunteering occurs outside the church. Only 7 to 15 percent of volunteering through churches help the larger community, according to Lester Salamon of the Institute for Policy Studies of Johns Hopkins University.
In response, the Web site provides resources to encourage churches to launch a community volunteer program.
Pastors can find ideas for sermons on service and justice in the sermon outline directory. They can also have their church small groups conduct Bible studies on the importance of service and justice, and then have the small groups use the Web site to find local volunteer opportunities.
The site provides the following toolkit:
• Directory of over 40 sermon outlines, bible studies and small group materials on the importance of service and Christian social justice
• Group volunteer opportunity search for churches and small groups that want to volunteer together
• Church volunteer toolkit and Wiki encyclopedia on church volunteering
• Webcast presentations to train volunteers and volunteer coordinators
• Multimedia directory of thousands of sermons, workshops, videos and MP3s on justice topics
• Short term missions directory with opportunities across the world
National Volunteer Month is April and National Volunteer Week is April 3 to May 3.