One of the top concerns ministry leaders have is getting the volunteers they need to make ministry events happen. Some churches are even mandating staff volunteer in addition to their normal roles and responsibilities. It seems that the joy of volunteering has waned in the church.
Volunteering used to be fun. Serving together is a great way to build friendships, provide ways to put content learning into action, and set the stage for transformational moments. Volunteering was fulfilling and something that people looked forward to. There is no way around this being a leadership issue. It’s time to look at the proper care and feeding of volunteers.
4 Essentials for Happy, Healthy Volunteers
1. Everyone needs to know the why
If volunteering is simply busy-work taking up time, there’s really no point.
Potential volunteers need to understand the why behind what they are doing. They need to see the results–and they need to see those results regularly. When people understand how they are making a difference—even in the busy-work—they get a sense of purpose and fulfillment our of volunteering. Mission is the organizing principle, and visioncasting is your best friend in keeping volunteers.
- What is the “why” behind each event you are staffing?
- How can you make sure that “why” is communicated to potential volunteers?
- What can you build into each event to ensure the “why” is evident?
2. Call out the growth you see
Pay attention to where you see God working in each of your volunteers. And tell them what you see.
Notice how their service is shaping them, growing them, and maturing them. Comment on it, affirming the strengthening of their gifts and the progress of their spiritual growth. Recognize what God is doing in them and where he might be taking them next. You’ll need to do this individually, or it means very little. Blanket statements to the group are not helpful: not everyone is growing in the same way and they all know that. Your care needs to be for individuals and their growth. Connection at and for the church needs to be secondary or you will lose them.
- What systems can you put into place to help you measure and monitor growth in your volunteers?
- Who can you enlist to help you with this?
3. Elevate their roles
Volunteers know when they are just filling slots. Change your view of volunteering to a pathway for leadership development.
Every volunteer should be given opportunity for growth and development. Learn their strengths and interests. Invest in them. Then give them an appropriate opportunity or challenge. In this way, you acknowledge how much value they bring to their service. Now, some people truly love doing the same thing forever and that is a blessing. These folks have something to pass on to others that you don’t want to lose and should be encouraged to recruit, train, and multiply themselves.
- How do you identify gifts and talents in others?
- What systems can you put in place to ensure that volunteers are working and growing in their giftedness?
- How does your thinking need to change in order to do this well?
4. Demonstrate joy
The thing about fruit is it takes tending. Even spiritual fruit.
If your client is struggling to find volunteers the impact runs far deeper than not being able to staff events. It is actually a key indicator that one or more branches of spiritual fruit are withering within the congregation. It’s time to set aside the agenda in order to look and listen. The key to righting the ship is in discovering where the holes really are and working to repair them.
- Where is spiritual fruit most evident in your ministry?
- Why do you think that is?
- What steps can you take to invest in and nourish what the Spirit is doing in and through others?
An Undivided Heart- An undivided heart is not something you can force on yourself or others. This book isn’t an instruction manual with step-by-step procedures, it is a journey, unique to you, that begins with your unique relationship with Jesus. Living with an undivided heart will naturally lead to living an undivided life. Cultivation of the heart flows into action.
Effective Listening Skill Builder- Working at being a good listener is just as important as making your ideas understandable to others. Effective listening is hearing what people are really saying. This leadership skill is essential to effective ministry. Check out the full list of coaching resources to grow in listening effectiveness HERE.