Cross-Training Your Volunteers
This may seem like a no brainer, but in your ministry you need to have your team members trained in multiple spots. Some of the questions that may arise when I say “Cross Train your Volunteers in your ministry” are:
1. Why Should I cross train my team?
2. How can I do this effectively?
3. Am I too busy to cross train my team?
4. Whenever I train people in new spots it complicates things!
5. What are some tools and ways I can resource and train my team on other areas?
There may be more questions (and if you have them please send them to me and I can do a part two to this blog) but let’s tackle these questions for right now.
WHY SHOULD I CROSS TRAIN MY TEAM?
I think there are a couple of reasons for Cross training.
I believe the most important and to be honest the biblical foundation we do this is because our Savior, Jesus, took on 12 disciples to spend 3 years with training, correcting, and guiding so that when he left he could say, “ Go into the world and make disciples of all nations and teach them to obey.”
So why should we do this, we do this because Jesus modeled this example for us. That I believe is the first and primary reason we do this.
But there are other reason I believe that your church needs you to cross train and be intentional with ensuring that is happening. Cross training allows you to have versatile people in your team. If everyone has one spot they do and then someone drops, misses, or leaves your team is in trouble. If you have trained people on many positions and have worked with them to ensure they are trained well at each spot then now you have a team of people who can serve and plug holes wherever you need them to. In my experience this is invaluable because things happen in ministry and having a team ready to shift and move with the ever changing rhythms of ministry will enhance and elevate the impact of your ministry.
The last reason Cross training is something you should do is people like to learn and grow in new things. Let your team learn new positions and keep things exciting for them.
HOW DO I DO THIS EFFECTIVELY?
I think there are 3 key things to effective cross training: Education, Practice, and Guided Check Rides.
Education – you need have to ways to educate your team on different areas of your ministry. If you are in production for example there are many ways to do this but you need to either write down, capture on videos for people to watch, or have training classes where you walk through what they will be doing step by step. Assume people don’t know what you are asking of them and train them accordingly. Some ideas here are to create a YouTube channel or vimeo for your ministry and create training playlists for each section. You could also create LEARNING MODULES on a FACEBOOK for your active team members to join. You could also create a dropbox with folders for each part of your ministry with documents and notes and videos in those. Whatever you do, just find what works for your flow and work to craft this to be a way for people to easily understand and learn more about other areas they can serve.
The next way to implement your education is to have an opportunity to practice this. Now for areas such as Next Steps, Prayer, Greeters, parking team, or other church minstries this might get combined with GUIDED check rides. But for example for your worship experience I started what I called MASTER CLASSES. Opportunities to play back a service for the audio team to mix the service, the production team to run the slides, and maybe have the new band members come in. You could coordinate with worship and other teams to host a FRIDAY night once a month to do a class and work with new people on new spots they are learning.
It’s said a lot of times “Practice makes it perfect”. Now while I am not saying you need perfect all the time we should strive to do things well and excellently. Giving your team a safe place to fail and grow will help them learn how to handle their position with the greatest skill and least amount of mistakes.
The last thing I would suggest is guided check rides. This means after a person completes education and practice, let me go solo at a position. But don’t leave them there to fend for themselves. I would have a trained trainer you trust or you yourself shadow them for the live event to help answer questions and ensure they are fully comfortable and ready to handle. These check rides could happen one time or maybe you need to do these a couple weeks to make sure that your team member has it. Don’t rush a person into a position they aren’t ready to handle, this will burn them out and frustrate you. Give people time to learn and grow.
AM I TOO BUSY TO CROSS TRAIN MY TEAM?
If you are too busy to train your team that reveals that the necessity of training more people to help you carry the load. If you don’t have the margin to step over and train others then I think it would be wise to suggest you hire a professional to help you with your service for a couple weeks to do your job so that you can be freed to train others.
Another option here is asking your leadership to let you hire on a part time basis for Sundays on of our your most experienced team members. By bringing on one or two of them for Sundays you can be freed up to float some and train people where you are needed.
WHENEVER I TRAIN PEOPLE IN NEW SPOTS IT COMPLICATES THIGNS!
Yes, it does. Training people in new spots is going to challenge and grow your communication skills. The only ways others will learn and become as passionate about your ministry is by letting them learn, grow, and fail. You have to be willing to do this. You know is the gospel with Jesus we see that over and over. He would show or do something with his disciples and they would fail, fall, lie, or mess up the next time. He was patient, kept working and training them. I think we see the model of don’t give up because it’s hard. Don’t give up cause your teammate made a mistake. Keep pressing, keep leading, and keep training and you will find that over time your ministry will change. Your team will grow.
We have to care more about our people than the production. That doesn’t mean that you don’t care about the production. It just means if a person is learning and makes a mistake or doesn’t understand you have to teach and grow them for the sake of the ministry. Find ways to do this and continue to set a desire to do things excellently in your ministry. Both are important but when all you care about is the show the people around you will see that and respond accordingly.
WHAT ARE SOME TOOLS AND WAYS I CAN RESOURCE AND TRAIN MY TEAM ON OTHER AREAS?
This goes along with the second question. You could use free training from our Making Sunday Happen Podcast or our free BLOG.
You could also subscribe to training options (these options have some monthly cost tied to them) like our friends at SALT U or an MXU.
Internships are another great way to grow and train people. By getting people for a summer, semester, or even a whole year you can train and grow others and get some extra help in what God has called you to do at your church.
If you aren’t in production maybe you host education classes, I know that a church I was at hosted poverty ministry training. You can find other resources in your specific field and setup a way for people to read, learn, and grow in understanding the area you are asking them to step into.
Cross training your team is a bedrock of what you need to be doing in your ministry. By training others to do others jobs you create a team that is able to be so responsive and versatile to the needs of ministry that you will find your team can thrive and continue to have kingdom impact in spite of challenges. Cross training allows you to prepare for the unexpected, gives people confidence in other areas of service, and will over time allow you to be freed up to do more ministry or even better send your team out to serve others. The goal here is to build a team that builds other teams.
BONUS read: if you are looking for how to provide consistent training opportunities check this article out (its about production but you could adapt it for you ministry)