The Volunteers Pastors Need
Volunteers are at the core of getting ministry done and moving vision forward. Recruiting and training volunteers can be a full time job… and everything can still fall apart. Here’s how to coach your ministry leaders to spot, train, and mobilize volunteers that get the job done and come back to serve again. 

Written By Robert E Logan

Christian Coaching Pioneer, Strategic Ministry Catalyst, Resource Developer, Empowering Consultant : Logan Leadership
Every church seems to have a core of folks who faithfully roll up their sleeves and work behind the scenes to make ministry happen. Or at least that’s how it used to be. Across America the ranks of reliable volunteers are shrinking. Good help has become harder to find. Busy schedules make traditional trainings nearly impossible. And the folks who were always reliable in the past aren’t as available or responsive as they used to be. 

Chances are, this is a big issue for many of the pastors you are coaching. Here are some common issues you may run across as you strive to help diagnose the problem and work toward a solution:

“I don’t have the people I need.”

Sometimes we have in our mind a picture of the people we need… and that picture gets in the way of the people we have. Certainly, we’d all like to have great, personable, experienced leaders who are motivated and ready to go on our say-so. But none of us have that–at least no one I know. Rather, take a look around you at the people who are there. Who is consistently showing up? There may not be as many as you want and they may lack experience. But these are the people God is calling you to invest in and develop. They can be the future leaders of your ministry, even if they don’t look that way to you right now. God is faithful to supply all your needs; be faithful with who he has given you. 

Coaching questions:

  • Who are the people who faithfully show up to events?
  • What do they need from you?
  • How can you help the mission come alive to them?

“People don’t have time for training.”

Say you do that–invest in the people you have. How can you train them? What used to be a fairly straightforward process of scheduling an event, getting everyone together in a room, and providing the tools and skills they need to get starting is increasingly a thing of the past. People are busy, busy, busy. They have things to do, places to go, and people to see. And the ones who have children fill twice as much of their time with activities, lessons, sports, events, and enrichment of all kinds.

In an environment like this, no one wants to attend a training. It’s hard enough just to get people to serve. What about taking a different tack? What about making their service role an intensive time of enrichment and investment in them? You can structure your ministry so your volunteers are trained on the job and deeply invested in as they serve. People will make time when they see genuine care, relationship, and personal investment in their own development. This is on-the-job training through coaching. 

Coaching questions:

  • In what ways are you investing in your volunteers?
  • How can you better communicate that you care about each person?
  • What can you do to build intentional discipleship into volunteer positions?

“Am I being ghosted?”

Increasingly, we live in a culture of disappearance. Partly due to busyness, it’s become more and more common that people–even our volunteers–simply stop showing up. That’s hard. It makes sense that you would take that personally. Yet it may not be personal at all. There could be any number of reasons. And if you create a one-on-one relationship of personal investment in the discipleship of that volunteer, you have a much better vantage point from which to ask what’s going on in their life. No one wants to be pursued only when they stop performing; that communicates quite clearly that’s all they were valued for. But if you have a relationship, how much easier to simply ask what’s going on? And how can you help? That kind of personal touch is crucial to recruiting and retaining volunteers.

Coaching questions:

  • What steps can you take to determine why someone is no longer volunteering?
  • How can you address your feelings surrounding this issue in a healthy way?
  • What are you learning?
  • What changes need to be made?
  • How can you ensure that every person who volunteers for you knows they are appreciated?

Resources

Effective Delegation Coaching Guide and Storyboard– This guide and storyboard provide a way to move through effective delegation competencies with your coaching clients in a sensible and cohesive way. It covers practical steps to follow on how to involve others.

Effective Delegation Skills Builder- Learning to use (not abuse) delegation skills is an important tool. Coaching clients can work through this Skill Builder to learn how to make healthy delegation a normal part of their work schedule. It will help them identify when they need the assistance of others and how they can learn to trust others with delegated tasks.

Cover Photo by Julia M Cameron

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

 

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