Every church runs on volunteers. They prepare the building for services, care for babies in the nursery, and do about a thousand other tasks to keep church running smoothly. We couldn’t function without them.
But how are you recruiting, engaging and maintaining a strong volunteer base? Do people know what opportunities are available, and are they excited to get on board, or do you find yourself constantly scrambling for more help? Check out these life-saving tips to help you better lead volunteers.
1. Don’t just ask for help, cast the vision
Volunteers, especially millennials, want to know that they are making a difference. Take the time to cast the vision to your church- What’s the goal of this big event? What’s the big idea behind this sermon series? Why are we doing this? Then extend the invitation for people to join in. Keep your volunteers abreast of the reasons for why you picked your VBS theme and what the impact will be. They will be much more eager to join when they see the difference they can make.
2. Create opportunities for ownership
Select key volunteers and involve them from start to finish. Include them in planning meetings, and assign real tasks- not just busy work. If you have a team of people making an improvement to the building, add an appreciation plaque with their names on it. If an artist paints murals in your nurseries, ask them to sign it. Your volunteers will be more willing to make time to invest in the project when they feel a sense of ownership.
3. Be personal
When working with volunteers, it can’t be all business. Take the time to get to know them, whether it’s chatting over an exchange of supplies or taking them out for coffee, let them know you care.
4. Be available
Many people won’t ask for help unless it’s offered. Be sure to check in with your volunteers regularly, don’t wait for them to come to you. Pop your head into their classroom and ask if they need anything, or give them a call during the week.
5. Create a team environment
Find ways to connect volunteers with other volunteers so they can spur one another on. For greeters or event staff, provide matching shirts to create a sense of unity (See how Oaks Fellowship did it in this awesome article by Jonathan Malm). For youth ministry volunteers, host a dinner once a quarter for just the volunteer staff. For babysitters and nursery care workers, provide a phone directory so they can find their own substitutes.
6. Establish clear expectations
While you may be seasoned in ministry, your volunteers may not know what to expect. Help them prepare for upcoming seasonal changes by holding a quarterly meeting. Write out expectations and detailed time schedules for special events so everyone is on the same page. Help your volunteers see how seasonal KidMin events grow children’s excitement for Jesus the same way that VBS does.
7. Allow volunteers to attend and serve
Some people are hesitant to volunteer if it means they have to miss out on the event themselves. Communicate clear solutions so they don’t have to miss out on anything. If you have 2 weekend services, ask them to attend one and serve at the other. If you post messages online, encourage your volunteers to serve once a month and catch up on missed sermons online. For special events, schedule volunteers in shifts so they can enjoy the event with their families as well.
8. Apprec iate, appreciate, appreciate
Words of affirmation go a long way with volunteers. Thank them via social media or send a hand-written card in the mail. If you’re able, thank them more than once. Volunteers who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to help again. You can also get creative and share your appreciation with treats and clever thank you’s. Check out our Pinterest board with tons of great ideas!
What tips do you have when it comes to leading volunteers?