Volunteer Engagement: How To Keep Volunteers Involved In Your Ministry

17 Sep

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This just isn’t for me
I would continue but life is getting busy
Thanks for all you did this past year but I want to try something new

We have all heard the reasons that volunteers stop serving. While it can be easy to brush off the decision others make, we must ask ourselves the question, “Am I playing a role in why volunteers are becoming disengaged with my ministry?”

Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Truth About Employee Engagement, is one of the effective books I have read that examines volunteer engagement. While the book is targeting employers, its three main points are easily translatable into a ministry setting.

Lencioni explains what makes an employee want to disengage (think volunteers not showing up anymore, stepping away from your ministry, etc.) can be tied to three principles: Immeasurement, Irrelevance, and Anonymity.

Immeasurement – Measurement can inherently feel wrong when discussing ministry. On one hand, we need to count the number of people in the pews, on the other, it does not feel spiritual. However, measurement is a reality that can help our ministries grow. “How many new time guests did we meet?” or “How many new disciples am I trying to make this year?” are both measurement questions that help guide our ministry.

If volunteers are not part of this measurement, they can lose sight of the overall picture and become disenfranchised with serving. A great way to counter immeasurement is with measurement. Let your volunteers know how many children accepted Christ this past year or how many first time guests you have a month. Go beyond big numbers and tell them how they changed a family’s perception of church or encourage them to try make a personal connection with a few children. A measurable objective gives your volunteers a goal to strive toward which helps keep your volunteers engaged.

Irrelevance – This is closely tied to the point above. Every human needs to know that the work they do matters and volunteers are no exception. Oftentimes in the church we assume that this is a given, volunteers should know they are serving God and influencing kids. The truth of the matter is that most of your volunteers will either not make this connection or simply not keep it at the forefront of their minds. This is why vision casting is key. Tell them how God is moving in your ministry and why it is so important to impart the hope of the Gospel to these little ones. Do not assume your volunteers know how they are relevant, tell them!

Anonymity –In ministry we should excel in making everyone feel welcome. While success in this endeavor is focused on first time guests, we can sometimes forget about our own volunteers. A simple fix is to take time to connect with each volunteer. Go beyond an email and call them, send a text, or meet with them outside a Sunday morning. One of the most impactful things you can do is reach out and ask how you can pray for that volunteer. Afterwards, instead of telling them “I’ll be in prayer for you”, pray for them on the spot! Volunteers need to know that you recognize who they are and care about them.

Lencioni’s three principles of Immeasurement, Irrelevance, and Anonymity give us a great filter to evaluate our own ministry. Pick one of the three mentioned above and make it your priority to take a step forward in that area this week. You never know what you may discover about your volunteer engagement.

How do you keep your volunteers engaged year after year? Comment below and share with us your stories of success. If you need more suggestions, check out our other blog post on ways to say Thank You! to your volunteers.

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