4 Ways For Pastors To Increase Church Volunteer Service
By: Vanderbloemen October 4, 2017
I wish I could say organizing volunteers is like asking a kid if they want candy. The truth is, in today’s fast-paced, convenience-driven economy, finding volunteers to freely give of their time to fulfill ministry opportunities can be challenging at times.
One of the biggest myths of church volunteer participation is that people don’t want to give their time. Pastors, your congregation will follow you into service simply out of obedience in their submissiveness to follow you as you follow the Lord. If they were not willing to follow you, then they wouldn’t be a part of your congregation. All this to say, typically a lack of volunteer participation doesn't have anything to do with the willingness to serve.
Imagine you ventured out for a nice meal at a restaurant. If your food out was brought out cold and looked unappetizing, would you eat it? Probably not. This is because presentation matters. The same rules apply when trying to galvanize the troops for service. It’s vital to the success of the event that the church shows cohesion, organization, and marketability.
Here are 4 surefire ways to increase volunteer service at your church.
1. Don’t ask anything of your congregation that you are not modeling yourself.
There's a reason this is the first point: it's the most important! There’s a big difference between saying and doing, and there's even more of a difference between doing and modeling, especially for pastors. When you do something, you can say you completed it. However, when you model service, you tangibly illustrate that this is a code you govern your life by.
When your congregation sees the pastor modeling service, it eliminates them from making excuses for themselves. The thought process shifts from “I wish I could” to “if my pastor is doing this, then I can too.”
2. Plan ahead. Well ahead.
The bigger the event, the bigger the need for all hands-on deck. Planning ahead affords you the ability to market ahead. Having a background in marketing, I cannot stress the importance of repeated marketing. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Got it? Need I say it more?
Typically, our favorite commercials are those we’ve seen more than once. The same goes with church event planning. If you want your church's event to become a priority for volunteers, then repeatedly (in love and grace, of course) remind them. Under-communicating can lead to cracks and voids. Over-communicating will lead to anticipation and understanding.
3. Provide some snacks.
In my 29 years of experience, I have yet to meet someone who does not like to eat. You may or may not consider this, but Jesus loved to eat as well. Biblically, we see multiple illustrations of Jesus’ ministry breaking bread while also serving as The Bread (John 6:35). He’s a pretty solid example to exemplify.
"Breaking bread" among a volunteer team is a great way to fellowship in the midst of fellowship! Of course, it is important to be mindful of a budget when there are multiple service events per month. I am not suggesting you have a spread of filet mignon and poultry plates, but when possible, provide light snacks and refreshments to keep the gang energized.
4. Appreciate the service.
After the church event, find a subtle way of showing your volunteers their church loves and appreciates them. No, I’m not saying you should give all your volunteers a $50 gift card (although that is a surefire way to increase participation). However, I am saying find a discrete way to let them know you value their hearts, appreciate their service, and love them like Jesus does.
A handwritten card is a simple yet grand gesture of appreciation. The number of volunteers required might dictate the route taken here, but imagine the look on your member’s face who just joined the local church when they receive a thank you note from the pastor. This will give them a level of “confirmation peace” in knowing they made the right decision on where to seek spiritual refuge. The old saying will always hold true: “It’s the thought that counts.”
What are some ways that your church has encouraged volunteers to serve?