In the process of creating Volunteer Rocket, we talked to seven churches who were doing a great job gaining, training and retaining volunteers. Heres a profile of Freedom Church, a young church near Atlanta, Georgia.
How Freedom Church Measures the Effectiveness of their volunteer ministry
While most churches go by feeling to determine the effectiveness of a ministry team, Freedom does a great job measuring the health of teams.
Every week, the team reviews a report of the number of people who have expressed interest and the number of new people who are connected to ministry. Checking in as a volunteer is a part of the culture, partly so the team can have accurate numbers. With accurate reporting, staff leaders can see how many people are getting connected. There is someone in charge of this report, and teams are accountable for checking in.
The weekly report also helps Freedom leaders guage the health of ministry areas. If they people being sent to a certain team but fall out quickly, thats an indication of a leadership issue.
At Freedom, you are not counted as a connected volunteer until you have shadowed someone and been adequately trained. Once those two things happen, youre on the schedule.
There are four primary on ramps at Freedom.
- Volunteer teams themselves are entry points for most people. Every team leader and volunteer shares in the responsibility to grow their team. This expectation is clear and theres actually a goal.
- Serving is taught from the pulpit. Two or three times a year, the message will have a clear application statement. In a recent message series called I Love My Church, they placed a next steps table at the front of the auditorium.
- The newcomers lunch presents current opportunities to serve and next steps cards are always available.
- There is a next steps booth in the lobby. People can stop by to get information on serving and fill out a next steps card.
Once someone fills out a next steps card, a volunteer inputs data into the church database and then assigns a contact. Within 24 hours, a personal contact is made. The goal of that conversation is to set up a time for someone to come observe.
Behind the Scenes with Austin Porter of Freedom Church
In a recent conversation, Austin Porter shared a little more about what makes the volunteer ministry at Freedom Church work so well.
What percentage of your adult attendance volunteer on a regular basis? 63%
How would you describe the volunteer culture? Healthy! And by healthy, we mean a growing group of people who are willing to do WHATEVER it takes to see people far from God experience life in Christ.
Whats the #1 way people step into serving at Freedom Church? Personal invitation from a current Volunteer Team Member. Also, people express interest through our Newcomers Lunch, “Volunteer Push” from the Stage (2-3 times a year), Communication Card in the Worship Guide, Next Steps Table in the Lobby, and Online through our website.
How do you keep volunteers engaged and connected to the ministry? By focusing on health. Scripture and science both show that “healthy things grow.” Therefore, our goal is to ensure we keep our volunteers as healthy as possible. Here are few ways we do this:
Casting Compelling Vision. People will only volunteer for a few weeks if they are connected out of need or guilt. However, we want volunteers to know that they play a vital role in people far from God experiencing life in Christ every single Sunday at Freedom Church! Therefore, we are always focused on keeping our vision in front of our volunteers as often as possible.
Loving on our Volunteers. We are firm believers that, “What gets rewarded, gets repeated.” So every chance we get we are constantly encouraging our volunteers. We do this through providing Volunteer Headquarters (a room just for them on Sunday mornings where they can coffee & breakfast), Volunteer Appreciation Events, Night of Worship (just for volunteers), Thank you cards, Gift Cards, T-shirts, Proper Training, etc. We are always looking for ways to love on our volunteers because we really do care more about who they are becoming, than what it is they’re doing.
Give them weeks “OFF.” Most of our volunteers serve every other week, which helps. But even for the most committed volunteers who want to serve every week, we make them take a “mandatory” week off each month where all they do is come to church to worship with their families and then go home.
Staffing our Volunteer Rosters properly. We don’t recruit for where we are. We build for where we’re going. Therefore, if we “need” 5 people to serve in the parking lot. Then we build a team of 10 people. This allows us to accomplish two things: 1.) Rotate Team Members to maintain health. 2.) Prepare ourselves for the increase God is preparing to send.
Provide Proper Training. Everyone likes to know what’s expected of them, and no one wants to walk into a situation where they feel overwhelmed because we as a church did not take the time to invest in our people the right way. People will walk if they don’t feel adequately prepared and resourced.
What does a healthy volunteer ministry allow you to accomplish? If we didn’t have healthy volunteers, then we not see the life change we’ve seen here at Freedom. Healthy volunteers invite people to church. Healthy volunteers serve other guests once they arrive. Healthy volunteers create an environment for people to meet Jesus. And healthy volunteers will ultimately change the world. If people/teams aren’t healthy, then these things will never happen.
How has volunteering helped people follow Jesus? They are able to realize that God wants more for them than what they are currently experiencing. They are able to embrace a sense of purpose, not just for their everyday lives, but for how they are the church; one body working together with all its moving parts, in order to impact the world. They are able to follow Jesus because they are so grateful for what He has done in their lives already, and they are so eager to see Him do the same for others as well. When someone is baptized in our church, our volunteers go crazy celebrating the life change this represents because they know that Jesus used them in a tremendous way to impact the life of this person/family.
Freedom 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.