Lessons Learned from Gettysburg about Volunteer Leaders

The Battle of Gettysburg was one of the most violent and impactful during the American Civil War. And there is so much we can learn from it. In fact, over the years I have posted about some great ministry lessons learned from the battle of Gettysburg (you can find them here and here).

The last time I toured the battlefield at Gettysburg, PA, I was struck by how much of the battle was dependent on volunteers in one way or another.  So here are 3 Volunteer Lessons Leanred from the Battle of Gettysburg.



Volunteers are Essential.  Prior to the Civil War, U.S. Army was not a HUGE, paid force of troops. There was the U.S. Army but not even closely related to what it looks like today. So when the war came about, they needed volunteers to fight the battles.  So, each state formed regiments of volunteers. The U.S. Army needed volunteers to help fight the war. Lesson learned: Even though this seems like a “no-brainer”, we need volunteers to win the battles in our ministries. We can’t do it alone. So make sure you have a good recruitment strategy to get more volunteers helping you in your ministry.

Communication with Volunteers is a MUST. During one of the key stretches of the battle, Confederate General Lee wasn’t able to meet with his leaders regularly. However, because of a position the Union had, Union General Meade was able to meet regularly with his key commanders.  That communication between the Union leaders was huge as it got them the right information at the right time so they were able to enact their battle plan. Lesson Learned: As a ministry leader, you need to be meeting with your volunteers

They don’t need to be fully trained…at first. The Maine commander who played a key role in the battle was not a trained leader at first.  He was a school teacher.  But he had the desire to serve his country and volunteered, ultimately working his way up to a commanding position. Lesson Learned: Where there is a will, there is surely a way to get someone plugged into something.  A Volunteer doesn’t have to be a trained specialist at the start.  They just have to have the heart to serve others.  Work hard to train them up right, but don’t stress if they don’t have the necessary training at first.

Although they may seem simple. These 3 lessons learned that played a key role in the Battle of Gettysburg and can play a key role in your ministry as well.

What are you learning about volunteer leaders. Share below or on social media using #ymsidekick to join the conversation. 

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Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor as well as Social Media Director at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, periscopes and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at YMSidekick.com and on iTunes (search YMSidekick).

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