If we want to live out our church’s communicated vision, we need volunteers. In January’s webinar, we spoke about how to build a strong team of volunteers. As ministry leaders, when it comes to building teams of volunteers, we first need to realize the importance. Our own capacity limits our ministry. Your church can only serve so many people, reach so many families and impact so many neighbors, based on the number of people involved. When everything relies on the staff (often, that means the pastor and administrator), the church’s impact is limited by how many people it can pay to “do the work of the church.” We need to change our mindset and educate our congregation about the role of staff, and more importantly, about their roles as disciples and volunteers. When more people get involved, the impact of ministry expands exponentially. More people involved means more eyes, ideas, hands and ownership.
Volunteering is Discipleship
In a recent article about the state of church communications, I mentioned the need to view every act of ministry as a form of discipleship. Whether you’re building a team of volunteers to lead Bible studies, care for kids in the nursery, or help with office administrative work, you are calling people into discipleship. The Church’s mission is to make disciples and serving is an important part of growing as a disciple. And as people volunteer, they grow spiritually — if led intentionally — to be more like Jesus.
It Begins with Education
Building teams of volunteers begins with education. If our mindset is that volunteering is a form of discipleship, then we need to share that mindset with our congregation. Education helps the congregation see their role and value in the mission of the church. It also helps them understand how they will benefit from volunteering.
When we recruit volunteers, one key way to build teams is by sharing the vision of your church. As you share the vision at every opportunity, you can begin to tie their role directly back to that vision. You can start to show how they are making an impact in reaching the vision of the church.
Less is More
If your church is struggling to recruit volunteers, maybe it’s time to scale back the number of ministries that are offered. More ministry takes more volunteers, so when we begin to offer less, we can utilize our people more efficiently. With less “things” happening, time allocated to promoting the variety of events drops. With the reduction in calendar-fillers, you will be more able to promote an opportunity to get involved.
As you continue to build your team of volunteers, don’t be afraid to treat the volunteer role as if their role was a paid job. That doesn’t mean you throw a ton of responsibility on the volunteer and fire them if they don’t reach your extreme expectation. Rather, it means clearly defining your church’s volunteer roles and your expectations for them. Give your volunteers a clear idea of what is involved with a position — how many hours it entails, who they report to and what the requirements are. Basically, create a job description. This gives your volunteers a better understanding of what they’re signing up for, helps them take ownership of their role and provides accountability.
Building and mobilizing volunteer teams takes time, but if you take these principles to heart, you will begin to change the culture of your church and, over time, see healthier teams of highly-engaged, serve-minded, disciples.