7 Ways to See More Volunteers Serving in your Church
One of the main ingredients found in healthy, growing churches is a strong community of volunteer teams. There’s a culture where new people are actively getting involved and finding fulfillment through serving on teams, genuinely knowing they are an important part of something great.
Sometimes you hear negative reports about how people “just don’t want to help”, but typically that’s not the case at all. God created every one of us with PURPOSE, and the majority of people are eager to get involved in something that is genuinely making a difference in the world.
The local church ought to be THE place where families can put their gifts and talents to work and experience fulfillment in the process. But in order for this to happen, it’s up to us as LEADERS to be intentional about showing them the possibilities, setting them up to win, and championing them along the way as they discover their potential.
As we do this (even though it can be messy at times), God brings the right people at the right times, and gives us what we need to build the church He wants us to build.
Here are 7 Ways to See more Volunteers Serving in your Church
1. List the Opportunities
This may seem elementary, but if there are only 2 or 3 places where people can serve in your church, it’s going to be hard for it to ever grow the way God wants it to. Your next level of growth could literally come from simply expanding the number of opportunities.
And don’t leave your list in your head – Get it on paper. You need a clear list of the opportunities written out and available for people to see. It’s one of the simplest things you can do, but without this clear list, people won’t know what the options are.
If you don’t have a clear list of Serve Teams, or if your list could potentially be perceived as “Us 4 and No More”, here are two steps to quickly fix it:
- Find a church who is doing this well, and ask if you can steal their list.
- Get your leaders together with a legal pad and start working on it
2. Have a Clear On-Ramp
Many churches have a “Growth-Track” type of class, which is a multi-week class where new people can learn about your church, and hear about ways they can get plugged in (this is where your clear list of opportunities come in).
If you do this on a consistent monthly basis, it’s a very effective way to get people started. It becomes part of the culture of your church, and everybody eventually knows that this is the first step to getting involved.
You need a clear on-ramp for people who want to get involved. Don’t make them guess or be confused about the system and steps they should take if they want to start serving.
3. Consider the Barriers to Entry
Make it easy for people to get involved. For things like children’s ministry, obviously you need to run a background check on all volunteers, but try to keep the “requirements” to a minimum. The harder you make it to become a volunteer, the more people you’ll lose in the on-boarding process.
Many churches make it so hard to get involved. Develop a culture where people can get involved as they are on their journey with God. Remember: Serving is part of the process God wants to use to help people grow in their walk with Him.
4. Make the Expectations Clear
When a new volunteer is getting started, make everything as clear as possible. Don’t assume they know. Explain it all. Details like “when” and “where” should never be a mystery. What might seem obvious to you may not be obvious to them.
Welcome them onto the team, let them shadow, and give them good, clear training. Explain expectations thoroughly and answer any questions they may have. Nobody should have to wonder what’s expected of them.
5. Don’t Overload
We want people to enjoy serving, not be overloaded. This is different for each person, so it’s important for us to find out how often they want to serve and how much responsibility they are willing and able to take on. Then try to honor that as closely as possible.
Maybe a person wants to work in the sound booth every week. Maybe somebody wants to serve on the parking team every other week. Maybe there’s a person you believe is capable of teaching a class, but they’re current life situation doesn’t allow them the extra brain power to do so.
Try to respect the season of life they are in, and what they are willing and able to do during this season.
6. Communicate the WHY
This is one of the most important things we do as team leaders. Communicate the WHY. We don’t want people to simply be doing tasks, but we want them to understand WHY they are doing the task.
Let me explain it like this: The parking team isn’t really about parking cars. It’s about breaking the tension for people coming onto the property. It’s about using smiles, body language and encouraging comments, to clearly communicate to people that “You’re welcome here!”. The parking team needs to know they are impacting families. They’re beginning the process of tearing down walls that people have built up in their lives simply by the way they wave and welcome people onto the property.
Yes, they set out the signs. Yes, they direct people to the correct section to park in. But the REASON they do what they do, and the REASON they do it with the right attitude is much bigger than the task. They’re making a difference! It’s up to us as leaders to constantly communicate that to every person serving.
If they don’t understand the “why” they’ll probably soon be tired of doing the “what”. But if they understand the “why”, they’ll experience fulfillment because they know they are genuinely making a difference.
7. Thank Them Often
Leaders can’t miss this one. People are working hard, sacrificing time, giving their energy, and trying to do their best.
Volunteers don’t want to be compensated like an employee, but they do want to know that their hard work is noticed and appreciated.
Don’t take them for granted. Let them know that they are appreciated. Do it often. Be creative and show your love in lots of different ways – Publicly, privately, hand-written notes, texts, emails, etc.
Set whatever reminders you need to, and train all your team leaders to set whatever reminders they need to, so that you are consistently (once every couple years isn’t OK) letting your volunteers KNOW that their hard work is making a difference in your church and in the kingdom of God.
When it comes to propelling your church forward, there’s nothing like a passionate group of volunteers. They’ll come along-side you and reach hard toward the prize of expanding God’s Kingdom in your city. But it won’t happen by accident. Get your lead-team together to go through these ideas and make an action plan of how your church will activate more volunteers than ever before.