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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.

5 Ways To Instantly Recruit Volunteers

28 Aug

Volunteers BP 827

It’s that time of the year again.

Every program in the church is gearing up for a major fall kick-off. In children’s ministry, this is one of the biggest times of the year. We will see families return after summer vacation and from the environment to the curriculum, we make sure everything is ready.

The only problem? We hope we have enough volunteers to welcome families – let alone run Sunday morning.

I will admit it, volunteer recruitment can be the most challenging part of ministry, yet also the most rewarding. No matter how well recruitment is accomplished, it always seems as if we could use one more volunteer.

If you feel as if you have exhausted all your avenues for new volunteers and are still running up short, below is a list of ways I have had success opening up new pipelines for people to start serving in the children’s ministry. While not exhaustive, use this list as a springboard for your own endeavors in recruitment this fall.

1. Youth Ministry – This might be a no brainer, but have you really considered involving teens in a serving role? If your church has a youth pastor, connect and talk about how to get more teens connected into the ministry. This might involve you speaking on a Wednesday night about serving or having the youth pastor hand pick a few key teens to start serving in some capacity.

2. Colleges – No matter where your church is located, you probably know of a few colleges or universities in the area. If they are Christian, great! Call the church connections department and see if they have a church fair you could attend. If it is a secular university, find out if they have any Christian clubs you could speak at. Don’t disregard eager students because the university is a ways away. If asked, college students wants to serve, especially if you provide breakfast or lunch before or after they serve.

3. Small Groups – If you belong to a Bible study or small group, see if anyone connected will serve. If you lead the group, make serving in the church a priority. Not that the group needs to serve in the children’s ministry, but to create a healthy culture of service. See if you can drop by any other small groups and take up a short amount of time casting vision and making the ask for more volunteers.

4. Social Media – Personal asks always go beyond general asks. However, if your church has a media platform, why not do a week long children’s ministry blitz? Show pictures of adults and teens serving in your ministry while providing clear steps in how to get plugged in.

5. Your Current Volunteers – Think about it. If each one of your current volunteers was able to find one more volunteer (a friend, spouse, small group member, etc.) each year, you would never run out of people serving in your ministry. The people currently serving in your ministry are your best resources to recruit more volunteers. Ask or challenge your current volunteers to connect with one person this year and bring them onboard the team.

I hope this list gives you some ideas to grab a few last minute volunteers as we dive into this school year. Next week will continue the discussion on volunteers as we explore how to develop a healthy team culture.

What is your best practice when it comes to volunteer recruitment? Share your strategies below!