6 Ways Church Volunteers Can Give Honest Feedback
In our churches today it’s integral that the teams of volunteers who work and serve each week to impact people for Jesus be given the opportunity to have input and say into the ministries in which they dedicate their time.
We need their input and say into our churches. We need their support and their critiques so that we can know where we are doing well and where we can focus on improvement. In our churches today we are so quick to receive feedback from the staff and pastors and I want to challenge us to also receive it from our volunteers.
I believe this article however is for the volunteer and church staffers alike. Volunteers can take away from this article helpful and insightful ways to give feedback that will get their point across but also will allow them to love the people who are working full-time in the church to create the opportunities for service. For the staff however this is a great opportunity to check how you are doing in getting honest feedback. Are these avenues open and available in your church for two-way communication between you and the team?
1. IN PERSON AFTER THE EVENT
If possible, the best feedback is in person after the event. It is so tempting to give feedback during the event, but to be honest for those of us staff people running events it is really hard to remember and discuss the situation in the moment. If at all possible, wait till the event is done or there is a clear break with ample time to talk and share your feedback.
2. WHEN POSSIBLE FOLLOW UP WITH AN EMAIL OR A TEXT
Just a to be open and honest those of us who serve on church staffs are humans. We have families, lives, and many things that pull at us. I wish we were perfect at remembering everything told to us but sometimes we aren’t. So, if possible, please follow up communication or feedback with an email to help us remember and have your feedback written down to refer to.
3. WHEN GIVING HONEST FEEDBACK, BE READY TO HELP SOLVE OR ENGAGE IN THE PROBLEM
One of the hardest things is being told something hard or shown a problem that you weren’t aware of and then having to try to find as solution on your own. We need our volunteers to help us own the problem. If you see something that can be done better tell us and show us your thought. The more people we have engaged in helping our collective church teams the better our church and serving opportunities will be. “Together we can accomplish more” is a phrase that seems trite, but I really have come believe this so true, let’s see ourselves as in this together. You are an integral part of our church team, so give feedback and help solve the issues.
4. GIVE HONEST FEEDBACK AND DON’T EXPECT IMMEDIATE CHANGE BUT BE READY FOR THE PROCESS
One of the hardest things about feedback is we expect when we have an idea for change, and it doesn’t happen right away then we think our feedback wasn’t heard. In ministry this happens often. Understanding that in a church when we give feedback there are many other factors at play. Your feedback is needed and valued however if given during some of the busiest times of the year there may not be the time or resources left to sit down consider and implement them. Also, in churches some ideas require the approval or ownership of other people besides the one your shared the idea with. So, when you give feedback understand that it may take some time to process and implement your idea.
5. BE READY TO UNDERSTAND THE OTHER REASONS WHY YOUR FEEDBACK MAY NOT BE THE BEST DIRECTION
When you have an idea and you share it, the hardest thing to hear is why your idea might not work. I know this is true for me. I feel like if my ideas aren’t implemented then they must have not been any good. We have to fight this tendency. Often there are many great, impactful ideas that can’t be carried out due to other barriers. In churches as the body of Christ we constantly need to have fresh ideas and think about challenging and changing the ways we have done things in the past, however there is a time and place for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Sometimes there are things that inhibit us from being able to implement certain ideas. It’s not that the ideas are bad but just sometimes they don’t fit the current situation and sometimes it’s not the right time or place. I want you to know if this is has ever happened to you it doesn’t me your ideas were not heard or valued. I wish we could do every idea that was presented to me however if we constantly do every idea in our ministry without ensuring that what we do matches the mission and vision of our team then we risk being tossed around by every new wave of thought instead of thinking and ensuring that new ideas will help our teams and church move forward and get better.
6. CONTINUE TO PRESS INTO SHARING AND GIVING IDEAS. WE NEED YOU
This last point is really a challenge to all of us. Please continue to share and give your thoughts to your team at your church. Not every idea you have may be implemented but your church, your team needs your thoughts and ideas. An example of this for me was a couple years ago I was serving on a staff team with a bunch of guys who I would say were crazy talented and way more knowledgeable than me about Christmas sets and designs. We were working on a plan for the Christmas season and had hit a roadblock. I was new and had a thought about something that could solve the problem. As I spoke up, I had already told myself that my idea wouldn’t work, much to my surprise the team looked at it and said that could work. They were ecstatic. Fast forward next year there was another roadblock in the planning, and I had another crazy idea. I felt empowered to share but when I shared this time there was specific reasons why my idea was a bad one. We didn’t enter down my train of thought very long that year. Of course, our tendency can be to recoil at that point. But I was challenged at that moment my one of our guys that just because this idea wouldn’t work didn’t mean they didn’t want to hear from me.
My team, your team needs to hear your thoughts and ideas. You are valuable and sometimes you will have an opening and vision to see something others couldn’t. However, that won’t be 100% of the time. You will have good ideas and bad ideas and the best part about that is that if the whole team is sharing ideas and feedback than leaders and teams can look at all the information available and make the best decision for each ministry. You and I don’t have the corner market on seeing all the blind spots, so always share your ideas and be ready and willing to dialogue and find the BEST solution for your team even if it’s not your plan.
Thank you for serving in your church! Whether volunteer or staff it doesn’t matter, I want you to know that you are valued and loved by God.
Thank you for serving and following in the steps of our savior, Jesus,
“Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:23
I pray that you would continue to serve well. Continue to humbly walk with the team God has placed around your and remember that your ideas and thoughts are important. Share them, engage in the process, and moved forward in the way that God leads your team and leaders.