15 August 2017 0 Comments

Elevation Church: Volunteer’s attitude & Corporate Image

Author: yinkaolaito

Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communications & Media specialist, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps Profits and Non-profits with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa) and Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals


Elevation Church Charlotte, Elevation Church and women rightElevation Church, one of the fastest growing churches in Charlotte, North Carolina is now enmeshed in a social media controversy which went viral after a Church attendee accused a church volunteer (possibly a protocol or usher) of being insensitive to her personal and child’s need. The church led by Steven Furtick, a young and dynamic but with great depth of the Word of God has attracted nothing less than 25,000 Sunday worshippers/members since its inception in 2006. A great feat for many churches in the USA.

First we need to understand the purpose of this write up. It is a professional assessment of issues. It is to escalate fundamental issue church management should pay attention to. This is especially so for churches whose members are majorly young and upwardly mobile. It is an open secret how people, worshippers are becoming impatient with shoddy service delivery as well as asking for decent treatment available elsewhere. People are now asking for holistic excellent ?attention which ?covers their soul, spirit but body.

Some may argue what is the basis of Christian’s teaching and value if it can not project patience? The fact is, the world has moved. True, the good book’s principles remain infallible. But if non profit/Church must remain relevant it must learn to respect people’s feeling. This is essential today as long as ?the the church lives and operates within the world where human beings live.

The full gist of the story according to our?source?revolves around a 29 year old stay-at-home mom, Amanda Ziliken. This mother of three felt offended ?after a church volunteer asked her to go out of the auditorium to breastfeed her four month old baby. This is despite the fact she had used cover clothe while breastfeeding her son. Besides, according to Amanda Ziliken, the state she lives (North Carolina) legally permits public child breastfeeding.

Amanda claimed she felt she had taken enough precaution as she had been considerate enough by going to the second floor of the auditorium and sat at the last row nearest to the exist door. To her , ‘she felt she could quickly leave if her child started making noise or cause any disturbance’.

In addition, she felt that since the second auditorium is not lighted there shouldn’t be an issue. Amanda Ziliken became agitated when the church volunteer asked her to go to designated ‘mothers area’ to breastfeed her son. This ‘Mothers’ area turned to be a restroom.

This, she protested against but the volunteer pleaded she could return to the auditorium after she had breastfed her son. To Amanda, that act was insensitive and despite appeals from other volunteers of the church, Amanda claimed that action constituted a bitter experience for her. In protest Amanda took the picture of the toilet and shared it on her Facebook platform. This photo had attracted 1, 600 shares since Sunday. In addition, her social media protest has attracted frontline activists who are planing a protest in response to what they felt was insensitive volunteer’s attitude.

What are the lessons here?

Non profit/Church Volunteer must be trained: With a large membership organization, volunteers serving others must be trained to be able to clarify individuals into varied levels of membership when dealing with the crowd. Level of individual membership maturity, needs, emotional feelings, exposure must be psychologically classified on the spot. Within a church setting, which I am a bit familiar with, there are congregation, community members, the committed and the core. The committed and the core are more prone to overlook a level of ineptitude of volunteers or show a higher level of patience based on the teachings they are to adhere to. Volunteers should not expect same level of maturity from everyone. But truth be told rights of everyone should still be respected. Rights, feelings of moms like Amanda Ziliken and others must be respected. Don’t forget Amanda had been coming to the same church for a while. Aside from this, she drove one hour each service day to attend the church service. She has options.

Make decent provision for varied categories of needs: The church had claimed in a release that it has a decent ‘Mothers’ area’ for mothers in Amanda ‘ s position. But the question is why did this volunteer take Amanda to a restroom? There seems to be a level of inconsistencies of action. Is the volunteer not aware of such a befitting place to breastfeed a child if it must violate public law: right to breastfeed in Public places. This Is an eye opener for churches need to consider varied needs of its member in making adequate provision in terms of facilities.

Know the law within your environment: One can understand the position of the volunteer from a church’s perspective. Prevent lust or ‘unholy’ behaviours within the church environment. Strong rule like these are for ?full initiate and not for congregants. This in no way suggest this writer is classifying Amanda as just as community member of Elevation Church. We are just making assumption, which is lowest level of knowledge.

The big question here is, what is the level of awareness, appreciation of the church’s leadership and that of the volunteers when it comes to varied laws that govern public gathering In Charlotte? Is the volunteer aware that the law permits public place breastfeeding? ?Is the volunteer aware he/she is breaking state law through his act? ?The fact remains also that Amanda Ziliken had also been considerate enough to breastfeed under a cover. ?Couple with this, she had sat in a dark side of the last row where most worshippers may not ‘ commit lookery’ which the volunteer is trying to prevent.

Do the right thing: What Elevation Church leadership has done is commendable. It had issued a public apology. The church had also offered explanations for the volunteer’s action. But more importantly the focus of the message is to say sorry. When it comes to crisis which has global magnitude of affecting the church’s image and perception, ?church ?should not keep silent as most of them do.

Maintain the rights of women in your service delivery: It is not just the right of the women but this should include everyone. It is a common knowledge there can be abuses display by varied genders in the church, but if church must reach everyone, strict adherence to church rules should be focused on the committed and not the ‘first timers’ / wannabee church members as they are called. We made bold to say we have no right to classify Amanda Ziliken as first timer in this case. She determines where she belong in Elevation Church membership classification setting.

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