The most challenging position any leader can find themselves in is the one where their followers are volunteers. There is no leverage with a volunteer. Volunteers by nature don’t get paid.
The biggest reason why people volunteer in church is because they desire to. But, how do you create that desire in a person without them feeling used or manipulated?
Here are five best practices that I try to establish every time I build a team.
When people are a part of a “ministry” and not just a volunteer, they feel more connected to a sense of community. By creating ministries out of the various roles that need to be filled in church, we can begin to connect people of similar interest and talent. Build platforms for these ministries to connect with each other through private Facebook pages, forums, or email lists. Conversation is the fuels that keeps community growing, the conversation is encouraged the greater your community will grow.
Recognize people publicly and often. Deep down everyone appreciates recognition. When you publicly recognize people it does two things. First, its an opportunity to applaud a job well done. Secondly, it allows a moment of promotion to invite people to volunteer for other positions that need to be filled.
Poorly defined expectations are the greatest culprit for human conflict. By clearly communicating what is expected of people, they are not taken by surprise when you ask something of them. Its better to under-promise and over-deliver than it is to over-promise and under-deliver. Its important to write out job descriptions that detail the expectations for volunteer positions. These job descriptions should include how much time will be required of them and the length of time they are committing to.
No one wants to be in a position where they are setup to fail. The proper training can prevent the dreaded “crash-and-burn” that has caused so much fear with church culture. Provide the best training for every volunteer to help set them up for success. There is a plethora of training material online that can help everyone from the sound guy to the children’s church teacher. Once new volunteers are trained, have them shadow the volunteers already in position until they feel confident to run solo. This will both strengthen your existing volunteers and help build new ones.
One of the greatest strengths a leader can have is the ability to replace themselves. By teaching your volunteers how to teach people what they do, your volunteer workforce will grow exponentially. This also confronts a common mentality among the technically inclined. Its easy to get puffed up with knowledge that is scarce, and sometimes we can find our value in what we know. These five steps will not only make it easier for people to begin to value themselves for who they are, but can also entice desire in others to join in the fun.
Showing people they have value inherently and encouraging them tap into their potential will not only build strong volunteers, but strong Christians.