3 Ways to Protect Your Volunteer Team
Volunteers are the lifeblood of any church.
If you think about it, volunteers often determine whether or not a first-time visitor will return – since that decision is made within the first ten minutes of a visit, before the worship and sermon even start.
Because of this, it’s vital that we protect our volunteer teams and keep them healthy – emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I believe there are three ways we can protect our teams to accomplish just that.
1. Protect them from undue pressure.
Volunteers want to please. They don’t want to disappoint you. This is a good thing, but it can also become a problem if we aren’t careful. For instance, if a volunteer feels like they aren’t doing a good job within their role, they’ll start heading toward burnout. It’s our job to let them know they’re doing a good job, or to have the tough conversations that help them become better at their job.
Or at other times, they might not be best-suited for the volunteer position they currently occupy. It’s up to you to help them find where they do fit, even though it might be an awkward conversation.
Protect your volunteers by checking in with them frequently and making it easy for them to leave if they need to. Show them that you value them, but don’t hold onto them too tightly where they feel like they can’t grow or leave if they need.
2. Protect them from harmful opinions.
When I ran a team of techs, I constantly met well-meaning people in our church who wanted to give their opinion about how we could do our jobs better. Sometimes, those opinions were bad.
So I made it my job to stand at the entrance to the tech booth and actually be a bodyguard for my volunteer team. I took the opinions and weighed whether or not they required action. I even protected my team from other staff members. It wasn’t an authoritarian thing; it was a protection-of-authority thing. This is one of the best pieces of protection we can provide our volunteers.
3. Protect them from wrong assumptions.
Finally, one of the biggest sources of hurt in churches are assumptions. Whenever something happens that we don’t understand in a church, it’s easy to assume the worst. It’s up to us as volunteer leaders to protect people from these negative assumptions. That comes through coaching our teams to assume the best.
It’s our job to teach people to do one of two things when there’s something they don’t understand:
Go to the person who has the information and ask.
Understand it’s not your business and assume the best.
This will save your volunteer team so much. It’ll teach them to communicate and to think positively about each other.
Again, your volunteer team is one of the most important parts of your church. It’s important you protect them from the various forces that would seek to take them out. Invest time and care and protection, and your team will grow strong and last long.
Creative Entrepreneur / Writer
San Antonio, TX
Jonathan is a creative entrepreneur and writer. He is the author of Created for More —a devotional for creatives and Unwelcome —a book helping churches become more welcoming. Jonathan is also the creator of Sunday|Magazine, ChurchStageDesignIdeas.com, and SeriesIdeas.com. His latest e-book, “Set the Stage: a Manifesto for Church Stage Design” is available now. You’ll find him in San Antonio, Texas roasting his own coffee beans enjoying life with his Argentine wife, Carolina.