How To Manage Volunteers For Your (& Their) Sanity

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You already know that volunteers are the lifeblood of your church’s ministries. You probably also know that managing their schedules and keeping your volunteer rosters full can be difficult. Here are a few tips to help you overcome this common challenge!

1. Have a scheduling system.

This one probably seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many churches—and not just small or new churches, but really well-established, large ones—don’t have something as basic as a system for scheduling their volunteers.  This will save you from having to scramble to find enough volunteers each week, and your volunteers will appreciate not having to be “on-call” or feeling pressured to serve on a weekend when it might not necessarily work best for their schedules.

There are several systems designed specifically for churches to use, such as Church Community Builder, Planning Center Online, and Fellowship One. But you can also keep it simple with a Google spreadsheet or even a texting system. Whatever works best for you and your team is the ideal system. 

2. Have hard deadlines, but also give grace.

When I served on the worship team at my last church, we had to block off the days we were not available on the first day of each month. If you didn’t do this and were scheduled on a day that you couldn’t serve, it was your responsibility to find a substitute. Of course, there are always going to be extenuating circumstances, so remember to have grace if your volunteer has an emergency and truly can’t make it one weekend. If it’s not a habitual problem for him or her, you can feel comfortable helping find someone to fill in without feeling taken advantage of or like you’re setting a bad precedent.

3. Have a contingency plan.

For those times when a volunteer simply doesn’t show up, you need to have a plan in place to cover his or her spot. An easy way to do this is have a roster of backups who can show up at the last minute. Maybe you have volunteers who have had to back off on serving for a season due to life changes who would be willing to pinch-hit every now and then. Or you might even schedule a couple of backup volunteers each week who can be on-call and ready to fill in if needed.

4. Have an organic recruitment process.

The best way to manage volunteers is to make sure you have a natural way to grow your roster. If learning about opportunities to serve within the church isn’t already a part of your church’s new member assimilation process, you can suggest this to the person in charge of that program. You can also visit small groups regularly to stress the importance of what your team does and invite people to join you. Remind your current volunteers to be on the lookout for people who might be good additions to your team, and teach them to train new volunteers as they join your ministry.

What are some other tips you have for managing your church volunteers and their scheduling? 

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