Volunteer Leaders: Finding and Retaining
Create your volunteer framework
What are your volunteer needs?
What are the roles and number of volunteers you need? What steps must be taken before they can serve? Brainstorm with your staff, existing volunteers and other active adults who may be able to objectively contribute to the conversation.
All children’s ministry volunteers need a background check, even those who will not regularly interact with children.
Establishing these requirements beforehand will help you communicate accurate information to people considering serving and will help you keep a running checklist of who is ready to actively serve.
Your church may pay for software to organize volunteers (Signup Genius, Planning Center, etc). If so, dig in and find out what types of tools are at your disposal. Meanwhile, a simple spreadsheet or even a table in a word-processing program can help you stay organized. We’ve provided you with a sample Volunteer Info Chart you can download and write on.
Find Your Volunteers
As you may have heard in the video, announcements may not be the best recruiting tool. But when you’re in a time crunch and you need people, do what you’ve got to do!
Other ways to get the word out and find people willing to help:
- Share your needs with other ministry leaders so they can get the word out.
- Leverage social media, paper bulletins and newsletters.
- Keep an open mind about age requirements. If it’s tech help you’re looking for, a high school student may be just what you need!
- Invite children to share their experiences at VBS, clubs, Sunday school, etc. so potential volunteers can understand more about events and their impact.
- Make sure your ministry’s volunteer needs and activities are on your church web pages.
- Invite people directly, face-to-face. A personal invitation can make all the difference.
- Encourage existing volunteers to recruit! Tell them about opportunities and let them know you’re never too busy to speak to someone who has questions about serving.
- Team up with other leaders to have a churchwide serving event, and invite new people to join.
- Remember speed dating? How about speed volunteering? Volunteer leaders from various aspects of ministry can prepare to talk with potential volunteers for a minute. Make it fun!
Which of the above will you try in the next quarter? Write those down. What are the next steps to accomplishing them?
Grow Your Volunteer Base
As you seek to grow your volunteer base in your church/children’s ministry, keep in mind that adults not already serving regularly likely fall into one of these categories.
The adults in each of these groups may need different avenues to become regular volunteers.
Assess gifts/strengths/skills. People who haven’t found their niche serving in a church may benefit from taking a gifts/skills/strengths assessment. No matter what type of assessment you use, it’s important you connect their results to a role or ministry.
Provide clear descriptions of ministries/roles. Ministry-volunteer matches gets missed because of a lack of clarity.When writing descriptions, include approximate time commitments, responsibilities and work environment.
Consider adding a sentence that says: “This fits really well with people who love to _____ or have _______ skills.”
Offer opportunities to explore ministries. Consider using special events and extra crowded all-hands-on-deck Sundays as “try it on for size” serving opportunities. Circle back to new volunteers you sign up and let them know there’s an easy way to get more involved. If it wasn’t their favorite experience, thank them and try to determine what they might like to try next time.
- Channel a volunteer’s desire to serve into an area that will be fulfilling for them and the church.
- Set volunteers up for success.
- Equip your ministries so the work of God continues and faith flourishes.
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10)
Communicate with your volunteers
Clear, consistent communication is your best friend. As you develop/sharpen your volunteer system, make sure you have a communication plan for:
Publicizing the need for volunteers, always including details regarding:
- In what context/on what teams volunteers are needed
- How to get information (whom to contact, when’s a next information session, is the info online, etc.
Next steps toward becoming a volunteer, which could include:
- Follow-up after initial contact is made
- Details regarding background checks
- Invitation to volunteer training
- Congratulations and thanks for completing the steps to volunteer. … Now let’s get you scheduled!
- Details regarding software programs, if applicable
- Frequency/rhythms in the volunteer schedule
- What to do when schedules conflict
- What to do if they can no longer serve
While it’s important that volunteers come in with a mindset of commitment, life happens! Provide an open door for them to communicate with you and make a smooth exit if they can no longer serve. If children’s ministry wasn’t the right fit, offer to connect them with another avenue for serving so they can still contribute to the church’s mission while feeling more spiritually fulfilled.