Every fourth Saturday, Anthony Freddura and a group of dedicated volunteers visit the homeless and disadvantaged in Boston Commons to distribute food, clothing, and toiletries. “We help out not only by providing those who are less fortunate with material things but, also, and sometimes more importantly, we provide the intangibles of conversation and fellowship,” says the 37-year-old Freddura, who is a volunteer and works as a business systems analyst professionally.
For ministries that are in need of more followers, people like Anthony Freddura are good news.
There are two important reasons for this. The first is related to the network effect.
According to studies, new members or ministry volunteers talk about their initial experiences with a ministry 8-15 times with other people. Thus, members such as Anthony Freddura, who find deep personal fulfillment through their volunteer involvement, spread a ministry’s message through their network of friends.
Secondly, outreach experiences for new members, such as the one at Boston Commons, provide prospective professional members with a “dipping toe” experience.
Thus, it enables them to test the ministry’s teachings and outreach programs without a heavy-handed sermon or sales pitch. While they are interesting and informative, sermons are not experiential. As a result, the chances of prospective members gaining personal fulfillment are significantly lower, as compared to volunteer experiences.