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Church volunteers have needs, too!

Meredith Mahon Morris August 9, 2011

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I recently read a great blog post on Ministry-to-Children.com that openly discussed the fact that often, children’s ministry volunteers end up quitting because they don’t feel connected to other adults in the ministry.

The entire post can be found here, but here are the top two suggestions they had for helping to connect your children’s ministry volunteers:

1. Break into teams: If you have more than 5 volunteers, divide your leadership into teams.  It is easier to get to know 5 other people than 10.  Look for intentional and natural times for these teams to connect.  It may be prayer before the service or a quick meeting following the service.

2. Fellowship together: Create events for volunteers and their families with the purpose of getting to know each other.

It’s a great start. We dug in and came up with some other ideas for church volunteers of all types, not just within children’s ministry:

  • Be prepared.

What’s worse than showing up to a new job – paid or unpaid – ready to help, and when you arrive, no one’s sure where you should be or what you should be doing? Assign someone to the task of creating a job description, schedule, and location for the work of your new church volunteer. Also make sure that the assigned person pulled together any equipment and supplies that will be needed.

  • Provide ongoing encouragement.

It’s easy to forget to say thank you. And to say it again. And then to show that you mean it. How often does your church demonstrate its appreciation for its volunteers? Once a month? Once a week? Don’t forget, little details matter – cards, calls, prayers, even remembering your church volunteers’ birthdays (keep a calendar!). Every connection is valued.

  • Communicate well and provide solid administrative support.

Volunteers appreciate being in the loop. Keep up with your church volunteers via email, and be sure they have the contact information for other volunteers as well as for any team leaders they may need to work with. And, this one is big: Do the schedule as far in advance as is reasonable. Nothing says “I don’t value your time” as much as posting the schedule at the last minute.

  • Think about new ways to involve volunteers.

The number one request of church volunteers is often “more volunteers.” So get to work and think of ways you can involve more people. Recruiting isn’t the only answer.

One client recently shared a story about how her church got more help from volunteers by letting them work from home. “People are usually very happy to serve in some way,” said Cass McCollum, CFO of Covenant Church of Pittsburgh. “But if you’re working with a single mother who may be a great data entry person, but she says, ‘I’ve got my kids home at night, I can’t leave,’” you need to have another option for her. After creating a flexible work system, “We can now say, let us bring it to you,” Cass said. “That’s really been a godsend.”

What about you? What’s one way you set out to assure that your church volunteers are connected and satisfied so they keep coming back?

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