Archives For volunteers

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So here we are – less than two weeks away from the biggest Sunday of the year. I just left a planning meeting with the worship pastor at my home church. We were talking about ways to turn first-time guests into second-time guests. We brainstormed about setting up a tent outside to welcome guests and give them a gift, as well as info about next steps.

The reality is all we planned to do takes a huge amount of volunteer leadership. I coached him on delegating and equipping the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4). But here’s the real question: How do we still have a team going forward after such a stressful and busy season as Easter?

Here are some thoughts: 

We live in a digital world. Texting, IMing, Facebook pokes, Instagram posts and daily tweets – it’s truly a whirlwind when it comes to communicating these days. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve found that a personal touch still goes a long way (yes, even in 2016).

1. A Handwritten Note

Everybody loves to receive a handwritten note thanking them for their service on your team. We’re coming up on one of the busiest times of the year with Easter. We all know that Easter is the “Super Bowl” for churches. More people will visit your congregation than any other day of the year.

Your volunteers are going to work countless hours (your staff, too). Take the time to write out Thank You notes to each and every one of them. If you have the budget, include a gift card in the note to them. Sometimes I do Chili’s gift cards for $25. Sometimes I can only do a $10 Starbucks card. Whatever your budget can do – make it happen.

2. Phone Calls

Another thing that goes a long way in this digital world is phone calls. It seems we’ve lost the art of picking up the phone and checking on our team and seeing how they’re doing. I used to go through my team’s list of names and give them a call just to see how they were doing and if there was anything I could pray for them about. This went a long way!

3. Personal Touch

One final thought I’ll mention on a personal touch is to give out hugs. You wouldn’t believe it, but a hug goes a long way. Now I know that some people don’t like to be touched and freak out if you try to hug them. You need to be aware of body language and know if you’re making someone uncomfortable, but by and large, most people like a good ‘ole hug.

On Wednesday night rehearsals, I greeted my team members with hugs and asked how they were doing. This is in contrast to barking “Get to your station!” or “Did you hear of the changes we made?”

I’ve made it a point to not let something “business” come out of my mouth first. The person is always more important than the thing we’re trying to accomplish or produce. Check on them first and then update them on the changes. Lastly, greet them with a warm smile. Let your people know you love and care for them.

This is about valuing people over production. People are more important than what they can produce and we shouldn’t prostitute them and their gifts. God has entrusted them to us and our team and we should value them.

How long has it been since you wrote a note? How long since you called a team member? Given any hugs lately? Let’s surprise our team and volunteers with a personal touch and an attitude of gratitude this Easter season.

The following is an excerpt from LeadingSmart.com | by Tim Stevens, Executive Pastor at Granger. Tim is a friend and I pick his brain quite often. I, personally, love his perspective. Check out what he says:

Since co-writing Simply Strategic Volunteers with Tony Morgan, one question that always comes up is whether a church should require parents to serve in the children’s ministry. This sentiment was worded well by a recent commenter here on LeadingSmart.com. They wrote,

I am a children’s director who spends a lot of time recruiting parents to serve in our ministry. When I hear people say, “I’m just not cut out for it”– it makes me sick. We invest hundreds of hours in your kids a year, and you can’t give up an hour of your time to help kids begin and grow a friendship with Jesus. I think it is pathetic! The church is the hope of the world. Let’s act like it.

I totally get that frustration. I’ve heard it many times and know of several churches which have an expectation that all parents volunteer somewhere in the ministry where the kid is being served.

I have a little different take on that. Let me ask:

  • Do you really want adults serving in your kids’ rooms who perhaps don’t even like kids?
  • Do you think others on the team will enjoy it if some of your volunteers are there only because of coercion, not because of passion or interest?
  • Wouldn’t you rather have adult volunteers who love kids and have a passion for using their gifts with your children?

It is my guess the children’s director who wrote that comment would say, “Of course I’d rather have passionate volunteers. But that’s not the world I live in. Every week I scrape the barrel to get enough volunteers just to have safe classrooms!” I may be putting words in his mouth, but those are the words I hear from many struggling children’s leaders.

The problem comes down to culture. It takes a volunteer-centric culture in the entire church, from top to bottom, to build a ministry that is truly focused on plugging people in positions where they are wired by God. Without that, a scarcity mindset takes over and we shift to turf-guarding and silo-building. And that produces frustration, bitterness and cynicism on a church staff–which no one likes to be around.

If it were me, and my only control was over the children’s ministry, I would focus for the next semester on transitioning my entire volunteer team to only people who loved kids, had a passion for the ministry, and were truly gifted in areas we needed in the classroom. Get rid of everyone else. In the short-term, it will be awful. You will be short-staffed and there will be many things you can’t do. But in the long-term, when you have classrooms full of happy, energized volunteers, you will see other gifted and passionate people lining up to sign up.

No one wants to be on the team where the only requirement was the ability to make a baby. Everyone wants to be on a high-performing, fun-filled team. What say you?

Learn more from Tim about how to build thriving teams of volunteers at the Simply Strategic Volunteers Workshop at Granger next Friday, May 21. I strongly encourage you to bring a team to their workshop!