In the process of writing Volunteer Rocket, I talked to seven churches who were doing a great job gaining, training and retaining volunteers. Here’s a profile of North Point Community Church, with five churches across the metro-Atlanta area.
What North Point Church Does Better Than Most: They have effective systems and processes in place to gain, train and retain volunteers.
In a talk about creating a healthy volunteer ministry at the Drive Conference, Andy Stanley said, “your system is perfectly designed to get the results you’re getting.” Andy went on to say that systems, not just sermons, create a good volunteer ministry. While the system might start with a sermon, it doesn’t end there.
North Point has created an intentional system that runs from year to year to bring hundreds of new volunteers into the ministry. Asking people to get involved is easy; creating clear and attainable next steps requires thought.
Let’s walk through the process of becoming a middle school volunteer at North Point community church.
Step 1: The SENIOR PASTOR asked me to fill out a card on the spot
At least once year, Andy preaches on strategic service and asks people to turn in an interest card. When the senior pastor leverages his influence in this way, it serves as a powerful beginning.
Andy Stanley used the stage and his influence as the senior pastor of the church to ask me to volunteer. When the senior pastor holds a sign up card in his/her hand & asks people to make a choice in that moment it really makes a difference if people take action or not. Most church leaders I see either over do this or under do it. Two times a year having the most powerful person in the church move people to volunteer is genius.
They asked me fill out a card & turn it in. I can’t over estimate how important this is. Most church leaders inform people & inspire people, but never actually ASK a person to step over the line & commit right then.
Step 2: Follow up is fast and personal.
After receiving an interest card, they send an email inviting a potential volunteer to an interest meeting. They remind you that the card and the meeting are not commitments – just a first step. After inviting everyone who signed up, they reach out personally. This creates value.
Here is a screen shot of the email sent to potential transit volunteers. The action step is clear: sign up for the orientation meeting.
Step 3: The informational meeting is all about expectations.
The next step in the process is to attend an orientation meeting. Remember, we’re using the middle school ministry (it’s called Transit) to show how this works. So this informational meeting happened DURING Transit. Potential volunteers are able to see the environment in action. As students break for their small groups, the leaders in the ministry circle up with potential volunteers to talk about expectations.
During this meeting, you learn that serving as a small group leader Transit requires a three year commitment and participation in camps and retreats. It’s not heavy-handed or guilt based, but it’s clear. Being upfront about the expectations minimizes problems on the back end.
If serving as a small group leader wasn’t a good fit, they have other positions that require a one-year commitment of serving every other week. The meeting ends with another clear step: an actual interview.
Step 4: A personal interview weeds out people.
As the info meeting comes to a close, staff members are ready with their calendars to set up coffee or lunch conversations with potential volunteers. The purpose of this meeting is to reinforce how hard a three-year commitment truly is. These one-on-one conversations work like a job interview. Since Transit is a middle school environment, they do a background check.
Step 5: Volunteers start strategically.
A clear sign up process on the front end creates success on the back end. Once someone goes through the process, the system doesn’t stop. Training and shadowing play an important role in the first few months.
North Point Community Church is just one of the churches we profiled for Volunteer Rocket. The core coaching program is a simple, step-by-step process your church can implement to gain, train and retain volunteers. It’s a how-to and done-for-you system. If you’d like to be a beta tester or want more information, fill out the form below.