TL;DR – I believe great volunteer training is a core competency of a vibrant, biblical, effective church. It’s also one of the hardest things about doing ministry well. So I built TrainedUp to make it easier for ministry leaders to win at volunteer training.
I spoke with a pastor at a ministry conference recently about how his church has “always done” volunteer training. He came up to me after my breakout session, where I talked about scalable volunteer training, to ask a few pointed questions.
In my talk, I’d estimated (based on some cursory research) that attendance at volunteer training events was generally between 60% and 80% of those invite. He told me his attendance was much lower. It was clearly a source of frustration for him.
He told me how his leaders struggle to get participation in training events and the church’s effectiveness and excellence in serving one another (and especially guests) is lacking as a result. Of course, morale on the part of the ministry leaders suffers, too.
What’s worse, they generally had a tough time keeping volunteers engaged and not burned out. It’s common for his team to spend every weekly staff meeting talking about some volunteer stepping down and needing to find someone to fill that role.
The reality is that poor training has a ripple effect through your volunteer ranks. A poorly equipped volunteer will burn out faster, show up less often, be more stressed in their role, and bring a bad attitude to the team. Solid training helps volunteers avoid these negatives.
Benefits of a Great Volunteer Training System
When you train a volunteer well for their role, you’ll find that several benefits arise.
- They perform better. This one’s a no-brainer, but people who are trained for a job will perform better in that job. That’s why corporations provide ample training for employees. Every hour spent learning their craft pays dividends for the company.
- They are happier. Can you remember a time that someone asked you to do something that you didn’t know how to do? It was probably pretty stressful. For me, it was the first time my boss asked me to setup a Microsoft Exchange server…immediate stress!
- They recruit their friends. People who are good at their work generally enjoy it, and people who enjoy their work invite their friends to join them. It’s not rocket science, but if you have a volunteer recruiting problem, it might be a volunteer training problem.
- The church grows in unity. When your church people are well-equipped to serve one another, they will experience greater unity. Ephesians 4 echoes this truth when Paul tells the church in Ephesus to “equip the saints for the work of ministry…for the unity of the faith.”
- The church grows in numbers. I read a testimony email that was submitted through our church website recently that was very positive. A woman had visited with her young son and, despite not loving the music or the sermon (sorry pastor), she was going to return because she was so well-served and her son was cared for well. That’s only the result of a loving, well-trained volunteer army.
Training volunteers doesn’t have to require more events. In fact, I’d say that if you’re having a difficult time getting people to attend training events, adding more events isn’t going to fix the problem.
An Affordable Online Tool for Volunteer Training
I built TrainedUp in 2015 because I had the same problem so many other ministry leaders have: training volunteers is hard. I needed a way to get new volunteers trained and ready for their “first serve Sunday” without requiring more events or forcing new people to wait for the next event.
For most roles, “shadowing” on a Sunday morning (following a volunteer all morning) doesn’t cut it for training, either. That might work for a parking attendant, but a sound board technician or a preschool volunteer or a group leader all require skills and scenario training in a uniform, consistent way that you just can’t get via shadowing.
TrainedUp solved the volunteer training problem for me by letting me build online training courses for my volunteers. With TrainedUp, I’m able to on-board new volunteers efficiently because they do the training at home and show up ready to serve with all the info and preparation they need to succeed.
I can create ongoing development courses for existing volunteers. That means my current volunteers can continue to grow in their role and skills without having to attend specialized seminars or events.
Online Courses Just Work
Online courses are nothing new. In fact, most of your volunteers have probably taken an online course at some point. Whether it was online training for their career or an online college class or a course on Coursera or iTunes University, the likelihood that they’ve encountered online learning is very high.
That’s great news for you because your audience is already familiar with how it works and the value an online course can provide.
The nuts and bolts of an online course for volunteer training is simple. All you need is some short video trainings, some questions, and TrainedUp to tie it all together. Video training can be produced easily with a smartphone; just shoot and upload to Vimeo for hosting. The questions can range from open-ended and multiple-choice to yes/no and true/false.
With a TrainedUp account, you’ll be able create multi-step courses that keep track of your learners’ progress, update you via email when they complete sections, and provide a history of their training readiness anytime you need to know who’s ready and who’s not.
I love talking with ministry leaders about their training challenges and would love to talk with you, too. If you end up using TrainedUp or if TrainedUp ends up not being a right fit, I’d love to chat with you on the phone to brainstorm solutions.