One of the biggest challenges that churches and church capital campaigns face today is getting an adequate number of volunteers. Yet, getting a lot of volunteers involved in your church”s various ministries is key to enhancing ownership and investment and building community. Here”s some great tips that appeared in an article written by Rebecca Metschke on some of the keys to getting and keeping volunteers and keeping them engaged and excited. Enjoy!
Volunteer workers are the lifeblood of any church. In most cases, there”s simply no way to operate without them. Yet it”s not uncommon for those people to be taxed to the point of burnout. Even when it”s the Lord”s work that”s involved, it”s possible to run out of steam. When it”s no longer a joy to serve, the work can become a burden – and that person may opt out of serving altogether.
You”re probably familiar with one of the basic adages of customer relationship management: it”s far less expensive to retain a customer than to bring a new one in the front door. In a way, the same concept can apply to your volunteers. If you continually churn through people who are donating their time and talents, you know you”re constantly spinning your wheels and spending an inordinate amount of time on recruitment. How then, can you prevent burnout and keep people inspired?
Some things to consider:
Is the connection to the mission of the church clear?
Though it might seem counterintuitive, it”s not always obvious how a certain task or project is helping the church achieve its goals. Whether the job is staffing the nursery, weeding the gardens on the church grounds, ushering – you name it – volunteers should understand the correlation between their efforts and the church”s mission. The work is more rewarding – and more effective – when everybody is on the same page.
Is there an opportunity to bond with others?
The chance to build deeper relationships with other volunteers is a big plus and can be an extremely worthwhile benefit. In many churches, this volunteer activity may become a person”s small group.
Are volunteers being asked to serve indefinitely?
Whatever the task, there should be a definite start and end date – whether it”s a project that will only last a few weeks or a term of a year. If, after serving that first term, James opts to “re-enlist” for another, that”s fantastic! But he should have that option rather than feeling he”s being asked to serve “in perpetuity.”
This accomplishes two things: James doesn”t burn out, and you”re also more likely to enlist the help of others if people know exactly what they”re signing up for. It”s good to publicize some of those shorter term commitments; you may find that people who initially stick their toes in the water by volunteering for a smaller scale project or task end up enjoying it and opt to become more involved later on.
Have you asked people to serve?
Don”t assume people will step up and volunteer. They may not see how their skills could be utilized. They may be shy. They may not know who to talk to regarding their interest in serving. They may be afraid the time commitment will be more than they can handle (see point above).
If you don”t ask people to get involved, there”s a good chance you”ll end up with the same core group of people tasked with doing more work than they can handle (the dreaded 80/20 rule) when there may well be a crew ready and willing to help. Just ask!
A sidebar here regarding talent inventories: if your church queries the membership regarding time and talents, be sure to follow up! Don”t just stash the information away in a file – act on it. It’s frustrating for the people who complete these questionnaires never to hear anything more about it after the fact.
Do you acknowledge your volunteers?
Volunteers aren”t doing the job so they can be called out in public and patted on the back. However, it”s important to acknowledge them – both from a retention and a recruitment perspective. Thanking volunteers for their dedicated work is necessary to ensure that the team remains vibrant – and continues to grow. You can recognize people in a variety of ways, many of which are absolutely free and very effective. Just make sure you acknowledge them in some way.
If you want to convey thanks for sacrificial service in a tangible and unique manner, custom created personalized recognition plaques are a beautiful way to express appreciation to dedicated volunteers. For these and other personalized inspirational gifts, visit http://www.thechristiangift.com/
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