When volunteers are recruited, trained and released into ministry, there is a risk that they will still start to pull in different directions. Without someone to champion volunteer connections, volunteers can quickly become discouraged with their progress and confused about their specific roles and responsibilities. My friend Tim Stevens used to always say, “Unless it’s someone’s job, it’s no one’s job.” It’s crucial for growing churches to have someone who is solely focused on empowering volunteer teams in every ministry. This leader ensures that volunteers are recruited, oriented, trained, cared for and celebrated. Every church needs a champion that is focused on equipping the church to do the work of the ministry.
A great champion for volunteer connections will fulfill the following key responsibilities:
Communicate the church’s mission, vision and values to each volunteer. Making sure that every volunteer understands these statements eliminates a lot of the guesswork. When volunteers know how and why their contributions are advancing the church’s mission they can feel connected to something bigger than themselves. People need to know that their energy, time and commitment is advancing the kingdom. When this happens, suddenly mundane tasks begin to have purpose. When volunteers understand the core values of a church, they can be empowered to make better decisions without waiting on a long, drawn-out approval process.
Ensure that every volunteer is ultimately connected to someone on the senior leadership team. Volunteers should never be allowed to float around without leadership and direction connected back to the vision. A volunteer champion makes sure that volunteers are aligned.
Begin with the end in mind. Volunteer champions should always focus on clear, immediate action initiatives that fulfill long-term goals for the growth and health of all of their teams. When there is clear accountability to produce, teams begin to take on greater responsibilities that contribute to the win. Volunteer champions provide this accountability and ensure that everyone is working to reach the same goals.
Build around cross-functional initiatives that unite the volunteer teams of every ministry in the church. If this doesn’t happen, individual ministries will tend to develop a silo-mindset. The busy pace of a growing church sometimes causes individual ministries to compete for volunteers and resources. Great volunteer champions realize the potential for this to happen and aggressively define what “wins” look like for the entire church instead of only focusing on individual ministries.
Create a simple scorecard for all volunteer teams. Once the “win” is clearly defined, it is vital to make sure that everyone knows exactly how it can be accomplished. What are the key metrics and goals for the entire church? Volunteer champions measure, monitor and celebrate the metrics that contribute to the overall health of the church.
Create a volunteer structure that supports future growth. A church’s volunteer structure should be able to support an organization that is twice its current size. Many leaders get addicted to filling the urgent gaps of a particular ministry instead of focusing and investing in the future of the vision. Volunteer champions help a church identify the gaps and begin to help prioritize roles and needs.
A volunteer champion is vital because they help every ministry get better. I love this line from coach Tony Dungy, “I wasn’t there to be their boss, I was there to help players get better.” Volunteer champions understand that their ultimate role is to help the body of Christ effectively use their gifts to fulfill God’s mission. Adding this position can bring immediate clarity and focus to a volunteer strategy.