You’ve got volunteers! Take care of them.
While not everyone needs (or wants!) individual attention while they do their work, everyone likes to feel appreciated. Consider some of these gestures and systems to honor people, respect their time and nurture their spiritual growth. That is an important part of what serving in a Gospel ministry is about.
Set your team up for success.
Honor and recognize them.
Consider occasional small gift cards for volunteers and/or handwritten, personalized thank-you cards. Do you have a relationship with any of your churchgoers who own local businesses and could donate something for you to give to volunteers? Host semiannual gatherings. A catered or potluck meal with fun, meaningful service awards can honor your volunteers and give them an opportunity to connect with each other.
Foster open and clear communication.
Create a pipeline for open communication.
True volunteer story: A mom of twin infants — with a four-year-old and a full-time job at the time —- had recently started bringing her family back to church regularly, when she received an email from children’s ministry saying, “You’re on the yellow team, and two Sundays from now you’re serving at 9:30 in your children’s classroom.” Mom, A) did not know she was on a yellow team, B) was not available on the Sunday they scheduled her and C) really did not want more time with babies. But she didn’t know how to gracefully communicate any of that.
Lessons to glean from this
- When communicating with potential volunteers, ask if they are willing and able to serve, before scheduling them to do so.
- IF they can volunteer, ask which age group they’d prefer. A parent of an infant may really appreciate the opportunity to work with older children and vice versa.
- Be sure volunteers know how to proceed if they are scheduled and have a conflict.
Some contingency plans include:
- Sharing volunteers’ contact information with one another (Obtain permission first.) so they can seek replacements/subs when needed and can socialize outside their volunteer shifts!
- Who to contact if they’ve found a replacement or are unable to find one.
- Communicate a clear message that life happens, the ministry will survive, the kids will still be cared for and God still loves them. 🙂
Nurture their spiritual growth.
Ask your volunteers, in person, over email, over text — whatever way they respond to — how you can pray for them.
Make it a tradition to have group prayer before dispersing to locations on serving days.
Share readings, devotions, etc. that may relate to their role or life seasons.
Bringing volunteers back
When you’ve had a great team of volunteers for a one-time event or a “season” that has ended, ideally they will be up for serving on a more regular basis. But that likely won’t happen on its own. Go into the event with the long game in mind: You want them to come back!
Before the event: Add them to your volunteer spreadsheet/database as a reminder to circle back later.
During the event: In your downtime (don’t laugh), make the rounds. Observe new volunteers. Have brief conversations with them. Make sure they feel supported in their role.
After the event: Two or three days post-event, check in with volunteers via email or a volunteer coordination platform. Ask for feedback, thank them for their help and share what the current volunteer needs are within the ministry, as well as what they can do next to become regularly involved.
After a calendar break: If aspects of your ministry follow the school calendar and take a summer break, host a back-to-school event for families. Set up a table for volunteer information and sign-ups.
After a personal break: When a volunteer steps away from serving, but is still local and a good candidate for your ministry, check in with them a few months later as a friend and fellow Christ-follower (especially if their life was stressful or their situation changed). Remind them that they are missed, that the door is always open to come back and that they contribute a great deal with their unique gifts.
What event records can you review to find volunteers who may like to join regularly?