Resourcing Your Volunteer Team for Success
Your volunteers are your first and most important priority. As churches we strive for excellence, create systems and processes, but at our core we can’t forget we are pastoring people always. Whether we are reaching people outside our walls who are distant from God or whether we are caring and growing the people in our church, we can’t forget that people are the priority.
Over and over Jesus modeled this in his ministry. The greatest example of this to me is that he chose 12 men to come follow him. These men were with Jesus. He taught them, rebuked and corrected them, and revealed Himself to them.
I think that we as churches need to be passionate about ensuring we are examining these 5 ways we can resource and build our teams for success.
“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
We are called to build up and spur each other on. As leaders in the church of people we are tasked with encouraging our team. Find specific ways to embolden each member of your team. I have not always been perfect at this but here are some ways to do this.
–Send Thank You Notes – I would suggest you make a list of each member of your team and divide that list into 4 sections for the 4 weeks of the month. Each week write a thank you note to each member of your team on that group. Write a specific note of something your team member did or a way that you see them growing and serving well on your team.
-Send text messages or emails – send a personal text message or email to your team to check in. Ask them what is going on in their life. Find out what they are excited about in their life right now (high) and how you can pray/support them (low).
–Engage with your team before and after events. Ask them questions about more than just the task you are assigning them to accomplish. Keep up with your members on social media so that when you meet you can connect with what is happening in their life.
I am convinced that in our churches we don’t adequately train our people. We have to always be about giving our teams the tools they need to thrive in their area of ministry. Now in different areas of the church this can look different, but a couple of key things about training.
–Have a detailed and written out plan or method for training and growing on your team. We have to know the process we want our people to follow for training so that we can effectively communicate this process.
–Make sure your process can be customized to the needs of the individual. Some people learn quickly or come in with the training you need for them to jump in, others need time to learn and grow. Be ready to format your training to each person and their individual needs.
–Invest in training tools to help your team. Don’t just rely on yourself to train your team. Outsource where you can to help you build up your team. Use conferences, training subscriptions, and platforms to give your team access to resources so they can fully learn and master where they are serving.
We need to always be in the process of developing people around us to lead and carry real weight. When Jesus calls his first disciples he doesn’t say, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”
I believe that Jesus modeled for us a key part of leading and growing teams. You have to show others how to “fish” so that they can take up the mantle and carry on, even if you are gone.
This is key for growing teams that are successful even when leadership changes or when a leader is out for a given period of time. If we develop others to lead and do our roles we set our teams up for long term impact. If we look to control and not bring others along for the journey with us we will be left with teams that can’t function without you to guide them every step of the way.
The best way to develop is to spend time with your people. Find ways to spend time one on one or in group settings to connect, learn, grow, and discuss.
The famous phrase is “more is caught than taught.“ Development is about helping others in our teams to catch the vision and mission of what we are doing so that they can run with you towards the prize.
4. SHOW GRATITUDE
Be intentional with finding ways to thank your teams. Your people on your team spend their time helping you. So often in our churches we are constantly pushing for excellence, which I am not saying is a bad thing. We serve a creative God who created us and saw it was good. Out of love and amazement for what He has done we should want nothing more than to offer him our best.
As we challenge and seek to elevate the leadership temperature in our teams we need to be mindful of always showing our deep gratitude for what each person does for our church.
Some ideas for doing this:
– Take members to lunch or coffee
– Grab a movie with your team
– Host a party at a house or fun park
– Host a recreational game and cookout at your church
– Host an awards banquet and make a prize for every person on your team
– Get swag made for your team
– Send gift cards
This last one is key. I really feel like this last point is also not just for you as you lead your team for success but also for the leadership in our churches. We have to start prioritizing the people over the “product.” Now I am not saying that church is a product for us to consume. I am just trying to say that our people have to be a priority. We spend time, money, energy on new programs, new buildings, guest services, the list goes on. I am guessing many of those things are valuable and important in your setting. But I think we often sacrifice our people and care for those who serve so that we can do or accomplish the next cool thing.
Prioritizing your people means building time in your staff each week for them to BE WITH PEOPLE THEY LEAD. It means budgeting finances in such a way that people are the priority when you look at your budget and not the next new item on the capital expenditures. It means working with people’s mistakes and failures so that we can grow and learn.
In business Profit is King, however in the church of Christ People are loved and cherished by him. We have to strive to make People our priority over the Profit we get from having them on our team.
So often the people who are the heroes of our ministry are often the most neglected and forgotten about in our churches. I want to challenge you to evaluate how you are caring for and resourcing your Volunteer Team for Success. These principles are standard across any team no matter what role they play in your church.
BONUS – Personal Analysis
Questions for you to consider in evaluating your ministry today:
- When was the last time I encouraged someone on my team? How often do I encourage people around me? Am I quick to find fault or see the negative or do I excel in seeing the strengths of the people on my team?
- What is my training plan? Can I clearly articulate a plan to people when they ask? Do I have resources for people to learn and develop on my team?
- Who are the 3 people that I am right now developing? How am I pouring into them? What next steps do I need to help them take to become an even better leader on our team? How am I connecting spiritually with these people in my life?
- When was the last time I personally thanked someone for their role in our ministry? When was the last time our collective team was thanked? Can we do better in this area? What would be meaningful and impactful to our ministry right now?
- When things get busy in our church what is the first thing I cut in my week, time with people or tasks on my to do list? Where do we as a church spend the most money? What is the ratio of money spent on our servant teams versus money spent on staff, gears, gadgets, etc?