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Reimagining Successful Church Volunteer Teams

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5 Elements to Having Successful Volunteer Teams

Have you ever stopped and wondered why some of your volunteer programs are running smoothly and others are barely hanging on? Some teams have no problem recruiting volunteers while others can’t retain even the most committed. You have teams that accomplish goals in half the time it’s taken most others. Why does this happen and how can you get all of your teams running in top form?

No matter the team, every volunteer program needs a few elements to be successful. What are these elements and how can you ensure your teams are all functioning effectively?

1. Strong teams need strong leadership.

Strong leadership is indispensable to a successful volunteer program. Each team should have someone who is a good communicator, trustworthy, passionate, and committed. Their leadership should foster dedication and enthusiasm that will motivate and drive the team members.

2. Clear missions and goals are essential.

Without understanding the goals, the team could stray from the original mission or flounder because they don’t understand the expectations, objectives, or deadlines. Having a clear mission helps direct team members towards a purpose and can also act as a guide of whether an idea or action is on mission or not.

3. There’s no “I” in “Team.”

Even if a team leader has clear goals, the program will only go so far without total support and agreement on the mission by its members. It only takes one volunteer to throw a wrench into the system that leaves the rest scrambling to get things back on track.

4. With experience comes knowledge.

Experience is important for every team. Having members of a team that have been involved and can share knowledge goes a long way in giving the team insight and confidence in executing their mission. And just as important is having new members that can offer new ideas and fresh perspectives.

5. It’s not work, when you’re having fun.

The comradery among group members makes even the most stressful missions fun. If the team gets along and communicates, it will eliminate two of the biggest hurdles that hinder progress.

Volunteering is an important part of every parish and church. And having an overall successful volunteer program is something that would be hard and expensive to replace if you couldn’t rely on your parishioners and congregants. 

A great time to evaluate your volunteer teams is in the Fall when they resume activity. Have all your teams articulate their mission and goals. Ask them how they hope to accomplish those goals in the coming year. If this task seems overwhelming or confusing for any of the teams, it may be a sign they need new leadership or could benefit from new faces with experience or fresh ideas. Regardless of the outcome, it is always important to have your teams step back and agree to the mission at hand.

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