I had the privilege of hanging out with some our volunteers and doing some training recently. As we were talking and just hanging and swapping stories about students, it really got me thinking about how important our volunteers are to our ministry. We are definitely a million times better with them! Hanging with them got my mind going and I started to think about 5 things I never want to forget concerning them. I want to continue to do these things better and better and better.
Empower – I’ve learned that the more you empower and train your volunteers, the more you can give certain responsibilities of the ministry away. You actually create the capacity to grow healthier when your volunteers are trained and empowered.
Teach to communicate – If your ministry leans heavy on small groups, then your volunteers need to know how to best communicate to students. Your life group leaders will spend way more time with students then you, so equip them to teach well. Now, by no means am I saying that you have to turn them into world renown speakers, but they do need to know what you value when it comes to what’s being taught. Giving them curriculum is not enough. It’s like giving a gun to someone who’s never shot one before, and telling them to shoot a soda can off a roof. They need training and guidance on how to communicate God’s word.
Involve – One of the worst things I believe you can do to a volunteer is under utilize them. I learned that I have to stop thinking of volunteers as hired help and think of them as a part of my team. You will be surprised of the skills your volunteers have and are ready to use, if you acquired about them and used them. I’ve learned that when you are all in with your volunteers in terms of involving them as a team, they will be all in with using their skills, talents and resources to move the ministry forward.
Value – Volunteers stay where they are valued (not just appreciated). The best way to show a volunteer that he/she is valued is not by just simply showering them with gift cards and thank you notes (which by the way are super important and shouldn’t be under valued at all), but you show how much you value them by how much you invest in them. Here are some examples of investing in volunteers:
- Grabbing coffee
- Bringing them along to a conference
- Asking them to share with younger volunteers
- Training them
- Letting them run a portion of the meeting
- Caring about their personal life
- Caring and knowing their families
The truth is, we invest our time in the things we value. So I’ve learned that if I invest in my volunteers, I’ll see more stick around longer.
Appreciate – While volunteers don’t do what they do to be appreciated, it’s a must that you show your appreciation to them. Your appreciation to your volunteers communicates 3 things:
- It communicates that they are important to the ministry.
- It communicates that they are making a difference.
- It confirms their call to serving where they are.
It’s our job to appreciate our volunteers. Make it a rule of thumb that however you decide to show them appreciation take it up another level.
Now, I know there are definitely more then five so what I’m I missing or what would you add to the list?
hope it helps