People are busy! It is hard enough to get people to volunteer, so how can we ask them to serve every week? Weekends are busy with family commitments, or time to relax and sleep in. Volunteering weekly will be the most rewarding for volunteers but how can we get them to understand that?
At a recent Kids Ministry Volunteer Event, I encouraged people to consider going to the next level. Most of my volunteers serve every other week, but I wanted them to really understand the difference it would make in them and in the kids, if they increased their commitment level to every week.
Our volunteer event had a “video game” theme. I compared going to the next level in a video game to going to the next level in serving. I made a PowerPoint Presentation. The presentation includes some notes to help explain what the slide is about.
I also made a few handouts that I refer to in the PowerPoint Presentation. I thought it was important to paint a picture of what we were looking for if one were to reach the “win”. You can view and download that document here.
The other handout I made was a Serving Weekly FAQs. I read this with them and helped them understand why serving weekly would be beneficial and some steps to consider to think about moving in that direction.
Finally, I showed a video of one of our volunteers who moved from serving once every three weeks to serving weekly. This personal story really helped people feel like someone understands their hesitations, but if they are willing to try serving weekly, it will be very rewarding. The person who shared their story in this video gave me permission to share her story with you so that it might help others switch to serving weekly too. You can download the video here. Please leave a comment below the video so I can encouarge her with the ripple effect of her story.
I know that serving weekly is not for everyone, but I think it’s good to encourage people to think about it. It might be the experience that is life changing!
When I think of volunteers, this is the picture that I have in my head. Volunteers are in different stages. Some are new, or come occasionally while others are the committed people that do the majority of the work. As I look at these circles, here are some thoughts:
1. Always be recruiting to your outer circle. Ask people to be helpers. Ask them to help with admin work, or organizing stuff. Ask them to help with shopping for supplies. Ask them to help at special events. Ask them to help as fill-ins or floaters. Ask them to serve once a month. When you find you have only a few leaders, and can’t think of anyone to ask to fill leadership roles, it is probably because you haven’t been recruiting to your outer circle on a regular basis.
2. People need to spend time in the outer circles before moving towards the inner circle. It gives you time to get to know them, and find out what they are passionate about or what they are gifted at doing. It also gives them time to learn about your culture & what you value in your ministry.
3. Help volunteers move towards the inner circle. Help irregular volunteers become regular volunteers by providing opportunities that will fit their passions, gifts & availability. Help regular volunteers become leaders by showing them how their influence can be multiplied as they lead a team of people.
4. To help people move towards the inner circle, you will need to personally ask them. Go for coffee with them, share your vision & help them see how the shift towards the middle will be a win/win for them & for the people they are serving.
5. Spend time with your inner circle. Encourage them & appreciate them. Motivate them & challenge them. Invest in them. Take them to conferences & visit other churches to help them grow. Remind them why we do what we do.
I am always on the look out for new ways to remind my volunteers how thankful we are for each of them. Recently, I created this board to help encourage them & celebrate the wins. It includes the following:
- a spot to post a notice about the free giveaway for that day
- 3 spots to share success stories & thank you messages
- photo wall – volunteers love to see other volunteers in action
- a spot to post volunteer quotes & Bible verses
- a spot for announcements or special messages
I picked up the denim themed stuff from Michaels for 50% off.
The background fabric was from a fabric store.
I keep a file of success stories & thank you’s that I can pull from to post on the wall.
I take pictures with my phone almost every week of volunteers in action so that I have lots to chose from.
Printing them on the photocopier & cutting them to look like Polaroids are oh so cute!
Tiny clothes pins are also from Michaels.
I created these chalkboard drawings by downloading free fonts & chalkboard graphics. Check out Pinterest for ideas.
I bought the hanging chalkboards from the dollar store.
Look for people in your church who can donate things to give to your volunteers.
It helps keep the cost down of saying thank you.
Summer is a challenging time to find enough people to help in Kids Ministry. Many people take some well deserved time off so it can be difficult to put people on the schedule when it works best for them. I have found the most success when I let them choose their own dates. To do that, I use a Google Document. You can create a spreadsheet right in Google Docs that you can share with people. A Google Document allows you to share the info with everyone who has the link. The document is always up to date, and people can see what weeks have enough volunteers and what weeks still need help. It allows people to sign up for dates that work with their schedule.
Here’s what I do:
#1. Set up the document – Create a spreadsheet with all the rooms, dates & services. I create one document with separate tabs (sheets) on the bottom for each room.
#2. Share the document – You will need to edit the settings to “everyone can edit”.
#3. Email all your current volunteers – Send them the link to the document, and ask them to add their name to the dates/times that they would be available to help.
#4. Email all your parents – Summer is a great time to ask them to help for one or two Sundays. They are not signing up for an ongoing basis, but they are probably willing to help once or twice when they are around.
#5. Send reminders – Each week I send a reminder for people to sign up to help. I do this for about 4 weeks prior to the summer.
#6. Send more reminders – During the summer, I will email everyone who is scheduled for the following Sunday. I’ll send the reminder email on Mondays.
To see a sample of the Google Doc I use, click on this link.
If you lead a team of volunteers, this is a must read book for you. It’s loaded with 99 chapters that are all 1-2 pages each.
This blog post would be extremely long if I were to list all 99 topics, so I have chosen a few to highlight:
Teach Shoulder Tapping – if pastors are solely responsible for finding volunteers, growth will be limited.
If You Don’t Need a Volunteer, You’re in Trouble – Is your vision too small?
Quality Attracts Quality – If your team is known for quality, then those who value quality will be attracted to your team.
Master the Art of Celebration – Quality celebrations are key to good leadership.
You Grow at the Edges – New people reach new people.
You Can’t Steer a Parked Car – Forward direction and momentum are required to make good decisions about ministry effectiveness.
Helping High-Capacity People – Help them find the place where they will have the most effectiveness.
If you do not already have this book on your shelf, then add it to your list of books to purchase. You’ll be glad you did.
If you want to keep the volunteers that you have, here are some things that you should remember:
Communication – Volunteers want to be in the loop and know what is happening. Don’t spring surprises on them or forget about them when it comes to communication. Stay in touch with them on a regular basis.
Feedback – Ask volunteers what they think. Ask them how things are going in their room. Send out a mini survey to get feedback on specific questions. When you ask them their opinion it helps them to feel like they are valued on the team.
Make it personal – Doing ministry is about serving together. It’s not about getting a job done, it’s about connecting with people on the journey. Sure you may be working together to accomplish a task or a goal, but really the priority is about the relationship that you are building with them. When people see that you value them as a person more than what they do, they will feel cared for. By keeping teams of volunteers small (max 12 people per leader) then you can build relationships at a personal level.
What are you doing to help reduce volunteer turnover in your ministry?
When I went to visit Northpoint Community Church in Atlanta, I saw this board in one of the offices. As people move through the process of becoming a volunteer, their name is moved along in the categories. (names are greyed out for privacy) It’s a great way to remember who you have connected with, where they are in the process and what is the next step for them. It even included details such as the date they got moved to that category or which service they will be serving in. If you are a visual learner, this method might be beneficial for you as you look for volunteers to join your team.