When it comes to Church volunteers, it’s always important to keep certain things in mind:
- The Holy Spirit has given every Christian several gifts
- These gifts are Spiritual, and a lot of them are jobs that need volunteers (rather than paid staff)
- Keep a difference between Spiritual gifts (which are listed in the Bible) and talents
- Note that you need volunteers for both their Spiritual gifts and their talents
While training your volunteers, there are several things that are important:
- Volunteer Recruitment
Almost every Church is constantly looking for volunteers. Recruitment for volunteers is an 8-day-per-week job. The cliché is that Churches are always looking for nursery volunteers, but it probably runs deeper than that in your Church, right? Always needing volunteers in many fields, not just the teaching roles.
You need to know your processes on hiring (even when it’s for getting volunteers). Otherwise, you’ll always be scrambling. You want to be ahead of the game, not always trying to keep up, or trying to keep your head above the water.
2. Training and Orientation
Your training should be very thorough. It would be good to have specific training (especially video training) for almost every role possible at your Church (staff roles included). As most roles probably indirectly work with children, you may also want to incorporate child safety training within the training and orientation as well.
It was also mentioned that you should have video training. Part of the volunteer (and staff) orientation should probably be done through a course format online. Not everyone will necessarily know how to access it, but it will save a lot of time in the long-run to be able to do the rest of your Church’s ministry, and you can have someone on the staff available to help those who can’t access that video training, to deliver that training in a classroom setting at your Church, showing the videos perhaps on a screen.
It would be good if each team got together at least each quarter as a whole, and if every 6 months all of your Church’s volunteers got together to meet and pray (along with your Church’s staff), but don’t make this required but rather optional and encouraged.
3. Volunteer Engagement and Growth
Remember that your volunteers, while they aren’t paid staff members, they still are on that same team. The reason this is important is that they are likely not always recognized for the work that they do, and they do it for free (more on appreciation later).
In order to keep them engaged for a longer time, you’ll want to keep that in mind. Don’t be too harsh on them (but also be sure to have processes in place to be able to find another volunteer in case it doesn’t work out).
Even though they’re not paid staff members, you’ll want to be sure to invest in their growth in their role. If there’s some sort of training (in person or online) for their role that would help them, try to find a way either to set aside funds for this type of training, or make sure they know about it in case they were interested in it. It takes more to find volunteers than the efforts to keep them, sometimes, so you want to keep volunteer turnover as low as you can.
4. Clear Expectations and Accountability
When you’re starting with volunteers, make sure they understand their task from the beginning, and also make sure to have someone train them for a few weeks (even if they’re already an expert at what they’re doing), so that there’s clear expectations met. What would be good is to find key Bible verses that correspond with their role and why it’s important for the Church (especially since some roles fit within Spiritual gifts and some are more about “talent.”)
Also, you need clear accountability set up. Know what their purpose is, make sure they can explain what their responsibility is, and then hold them accountable to do their role. While volunteers aren’t staff, it’s still important to know the limits in order to know whether they keep the position or are let go (though, of course, don’t focus on that — this is just to keep your Church accountable to know how the volunteers are working effectively).
5. Clear Communication
Communication is important in any setting, and especially a Church setting. 1 Corinthians 12:21–23 says, “And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.”
Unlike any other group of people, the Church is one. This means that communication is important. It is vital to ensure that everyone remains informed and involved, fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose. Keep everyone in each department/role in the loop.
6. Flexibility and Support
Volunteers aren’t staff members. They’re unpaid workers for the Lord, so try to be as flexible as you can when figuring out schedules. It’s good, as possible, to have a backup for a lot of your volunteer positions. If the volunteers are on a rotation schedule, it could be as simple as, “You’re the person designated to volunteer next Sunday. However, if ______ can’t make it this Sunday, you’ll be needed to take over on short notice.” If it’s a Sunday School teacher rotation, then it’s actually pretty simple, as they can prepare a week in advance and teach the lesson they would have taught the next week if they have to be backup a week ahead. As far as who takes over that next week, that’s another decision (though it could be that they just switch and the person who missed takes over the next week).
Make sure that your volunteers know who’s directly over (and responsible for) them. Sometimes, when you’re scrambling, it’s easy to forget to have someone over a volunteer, especially in a smaller (or larger) Church. The best is to have an up-to-date chart (that includes staff and volunteers), but that’s easier said than done. The most important thing, though, is to have one main point of contact for each volunteer, so that communication is simple (and in most cases, it would be best for that point of contact to be a staff member, but that’s not always possible).
7. Appreciation and Recognition
A lot of times, your volunteers are working hard hours, as you are, to help the Church. Be sure to appreciate them and recognize them regularly. Annually, it would be good to have a Church-wide recognition for your volunteers (perhaps a Volunteer Appreciation Sunday). Make sure that your volunteers can interact with each other during the times that they’re recognized, as it’s easy to be in your own world when volunteers are working the Church services/Sunday School.
This Appreciation Sunday also can double as a recruitment Sunday, as the Church will see how many volunteers there are. Say something like, “You see how many volunteers we have, but the need is still great” (and then mention some places where people can volunteer.
In conclusion, effectively managing Church volunteers is crucial for keeping the Church community united in mind and goal. By keeping certain key principles in mind, such as clear communication, thorough training and orientation, volunteer engagement and growth, clear expectations and accountability, flexibility and support, and appreciation and recognition, you can create an environment that encourages volunteer involvement and contributes to the overall success of your Ministry. Remember, volunteers are an essential part of the body of Christ, each with unique God-given gifts and talents, and by nurturing and supporting them, you can build a strong and thriving Church community that impacts lives and fulfills its mission.
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