4 Ways To Grow Your Volunteer Team In The New Year
By: Vanderbloemen December 14, 2017
Volunteers are the lifeblood of your church. The healthiest and fastest-growing churches all utilize the power of a well-developed volunteer culture. As 2018 approaches, creating strategies to grow your volunteer team will lead to enormous benefits in the long run.
Of course, there is no perfect way to lead and develop volunteers, but use these best practices to inspire you in the specific way that your church needs.
1. Be intentional about volunteer development.
In any aspect of ministry, but especially volunteer, it is crucial to have an intentional development plan in place. Without it, volunteers will lose the ‘why’ behind what they’re doing and show up for their duties without a sense of overall purpose.
So how does this look in a church context?
Create a volunteer pipeline. Essentially, this means defining each volunteer role, no matter how small. It means setting realistic parameters for each category, which informs the volunteers of exactly what they are expected to do. With a pipeline system in place, volunteers feel freed to grow as leaders in their respective roles.
Instead of telling volunteers what they should be doing, ask them how you can better care for them. Build a culture of excitement. Build a culture that values its volunteers by pouring into them as much as possible.
2. Fight burnout.
Volunteer burnout is not just unhealthy for the individual, but also for the church. It can start with a mismanaged schedule or unspoken appreciation, and it ends with a volunteer parting ways with the ministry - or worse- the church as a whole. If people are not properly cared for and managed well, the risk of burnout rises dramatically. And this is a risk your church should not want to take.
So how should your church battle ministry burnout?
One word: fun. Is your volunteer ministry a fun place to work? Sometimes it’s just that simple. Invest in special events specifically for volunteers a couple of times a year. This doesn’t have to be anything huge, but simply an opportunity to create a fun atmosphere and further pour into the church’s volunteers. This could be a workshop, guest speaker or even BBQ lunch- it’s truly the thought that counts.
It’s just as important to give your volunteers the opportunity to take a break, if necessary. They will be able to come back refreshed and more eager to fulfill their role. One reason why people leave churches and face burnout is because they feel like they can never take a break from their work.
Healthy volunteers need an environment where they aren’t pushed past their limit and feel appreciated for the work that they do.
3. Be prepared to fire a volunteer.
The more a church grows, the more intentional its leaders need to be about recruiting the right people and letting go of the wrong people... gently. Many church leaders are uncomfortable with the thought of firing a volunteer, but it’s a necessary step in furthering the development of your church.
Even if a volunteer has been a faithful servant of your church for years, do not be hesitant to engage them in honest conversation if a trouble spot arises. The best way to start this conversation is by asking simple, non-interrogating questions that can help narrow in on the issue at hand.
An important note to remember is that a struggling volunteer could just be operating from the wrong seat on the bus; a change in attitude or performance could result from a shift in his or her role. This volunteer could benefit from the continued loyalty of the church despite his or her waning performance. If well-placed, this volunteer could also rediscover a love for service and ministry.
When communicating with volunteers, one platform of communication is not enough. It’s perfectly normal for church leaders to implement two, three, or even four methods to effectively reach an entire volunteer team. This could be detailed email, a closed Facebook group or an Instagram post with the bare details.
The best way to further your church is by growing your volunteer culture. Pour into your volunteers, create a place where they can thrive in their work, and communicate as much as possible. Putting all these things into practice will be the best investment you can make for the future of your church.
How do you effectively manage your volunteer team?