If you traveled to most communities around the world, you’d find a local church fueled by volunteers who are making a difference. Your church is powered by volunteers who show up week in and week out to serve other people and make ministry happen. I challenge us all to create compelling volunteer experiences that gather rather than repel people. Consider the following questions with your team to determine where your volunteer culture could improve:
- Are you helping them grow in their relationships with Jesus? // At the end of the day, churches are about seeing people take steps towards Jesus. Core to why we exist is helping people develop their faith. What does spiritual formation look like in your serving environment? How can we infuse conversations about Jesus into these experiences?
- If they leave, are you more worried about them or the holes to be filled? // Be honest. When people leave, are you sad to see them go or are you freaked out because you need them to serve on the team? People are more than “service widgets” for your ministry. We need to be concerned primarily with their spiritual development if they step away from volunteering.
- Do they feel like a number or do they feel cared for? // Growing churches have systems — and systems are filled with numbers. We need 6 ushers to make the main auditorium work. 12 small group leaders are required to care for 80 kids in our children’s ministry. However, good shepherds know their sheep. [ref] The first step towards ensuring people feel cared for is making sure leaders know their team members’ names. From there, you can encourage them to find out more about what’s happening in people’s lives. Knowing volunteers as individuals is vital for ensuring they are loved and cared for.
- Does volunteering with you help them with the rest of their lives? // Volunteering with your church should benefit people in the rest of their lives. There are lots of development opportunities that can help grow your volunteers’ leadership abilities, relational qualities and technical skills. Train people so they can apply what they learn not only when they volunteer at church, but also in daily life.
- Has anyone ever connected with them outside of your programming? // We want volunteers to get stuff done for us. Volunteers serve because they want to be connected to the bigger vision and to make new friends. Your culture needs to push towards relationships that go beyond serving together at the church. People connecting outside of what you do is a positive outcome of your ministry. The obvious “first level” of this is you taking interest in people outside of your ministry. Then encourage people to reach out to one another.