Let me start by asking you a simple question:
Is there anything you can do at your church without the help and support of volunteers?
I’d venture to say that if you really sat down and thought about it, your answer would probably be a resounding, “No!”
That’s because volunteers are essential to the success of a growing, thriving church.
Without the helping hands, hearts, and hard work of the people in your congregation, you wouldn’t be able to pull off nearly any of the major happenings at your church.
Think about it! Your volunteers have a hand in nearly everything that happens at your church.
From the weekly tasks like…
- greeting guests
- collecting the offering
- and showing visitors to their seats on a Sunday morning,
to the major things like…
- leading small groups
- teaching Sunday school
- serving on weekend retreats or events
- hosting meals or events in their homes
- or committing to a year or more of service at your church,
volunteers are essential to both the life and success of most of what’s going on at your church.
So if a big, incredible group of volunteers is key to the making the big, incredible things happen at your church, then how do you go about not only recruiting, but also keeping volunteers on board at your church?
Well, there are a lot of ways to get people involved and serving at your church, but we’ve broken it down in to five simple steps designed to help you recruit and keep volunteers at your church.
ONE: Cast a clear vision.
When it comes to getting people in your congregation to move from sitting in their seats to serving in the aisles, a clear vision is key. People aren’t going to consistently give up their time for free unless they understand why giving up that time is important.
THE WHY THEY NEED TO UNDERSTAND IS YOUR VISION, AND IT’S YOUR JOB AS A CHURCH LEADER TO MAKE SURE THAT VISION IS CLEAR AND EASY TO UNDERSTAND.
Whether you’re making an ask from stage on Sunday morning, sending out an email to draw in more volunteers, or just having a simple conversation with a member of your congregation, it’s imperative that you be able to clearly and succinctly articulate not just what volunteers will do, but why they’re so important to the life and health of your church.
That’s the vision!
Before you even start trying to launch a big volunteer campaign, spend time developing a clear vision that your congregation can not only understand, but be inspired by as well!
TWO: Give them all the details.
Once you’ve made the why clear, it’s time to focus on the what.
People are often hesitant to get involved or commit to serving at your church because they simply don’t understand exactly what’s going to be required of them when they do.
- How often will they be asked to serve?
- What will they have to do?
- How long does the commitment last?
- Will there be a lot of extra work required outside of church?
- Can they step out early if they need to?
These are the details people are going to want to know before they fully agree to jump on board and serve.
Try to anticipate these questions and include all the details of the volunteer commitment up front. Put it in writing so they can see it all laid out in one place.
This will not only help them understand what they’re committing to as a volunteer, it will also help your church leadership have something to refer back to if there are questions or concerns during the commitment.
THREE: Make it personal.
Here’s the truth: people give to what’s important to them.
This is true about tithe and financial support, but it’s also true about their time.
While some people in you church will give their time to your church out of a sense of obligation, most won’t sacrifice their time until they understand that it’s important or personal to them.
That’s why it’s important to make your volunteer asks personal.
- Find out areas where members of your congregation are gifted to serve.
- Discover the volunteer opportunities that your attendees are passionate about.
- Let them know you’ve seen their heart (and their gifts), and you’d love to invite them to take the next step.
- Think about ministries of your church that have blessed people in a personal way. Maybe your children’s ministry really blessed a family, your financial care ministry helped someone out of a mess, or a small group ministry changed the life of a couple. Ask those who were personally impacted by those ministries to think about getting involved to help other people discover the same thing.
Sure, you can ask out of compulsion or even guilt. But those volunteers will be unhappy and short-lived.
A volunteer with a personal investment in the ministry will not only be a great service to the ministry, but a long-lasting one as well.
FOUR: Provide support.
It’s important to remember that while your volunteers are incredible at what they do, they’re not fully trained and equipped to do it all. The members of your church staff are leaders for a reason, and it’s imperative that they make every effort to lead and support your volunteers through their service to your church.
Without it, your volunteers will burn out quickly!
Have leadership check in with their volunteers about once a month. This can be as simple as a quick email, text, or phone call. Try to routinely find the time to take volunteers out for a meal or coffee to get some one-on-one time with them. Host a quarterly meeting for your volunteers to come together and share how things are going as a group. Whether they’re facing a difficult season or things are going along smoothly, your volunteers need to know that your church leadership is always in their corner and available to support them however they need.
FIVE: Celebrate often.
Remember, your volunteers are working and serving for free—that’s huge!
It’s rare to get anyone to commit to doing anything without a tangible benefit or reward for themselves, but your volunteers are doing just that.
And in order to say yes to serving at your church, they’re choosing to say no other things in their lives. That sacrifice alone is worth celebrating!
Make sure your volunteers feel seen and loved by your church throughout their time of service.
- Send them notes and texts to thank them for what they’re doing.
- Celebrate them publicly or on social media after a big event or particularly busy season.
- Host meals or special outings designed to let them know how much you appreciate them.
Taking time to serve the people who are serving your church will say a lot to your volunteers, and hopefully encourage them to keep serving because they know their sacrifices are being seen.
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