Creating A Healthy Volunteer Culture

by Chad Ward

Setting the stage: I am in a growing church and Sunday is coming . . . again. I seem to have a lot of volunteers, but are they on mission? Do they understand WHY they serve? Are they excited to be there? Do they feel well equipped to lead? Do they feel stuck in this ministry or blessed to serve in this ministry? Are they encouraged? Do they feel appreciated? Do they feel like they have a voice to make it better?

These are such great questions to ask yourself as a family ministry leader. As cheesy as it may sound, it really does start one volunteer at a time. We as family ministry leaders need to commit to doing a few things very well with each volunteer.

Inspire your volunteers to do something significant!

This begins with telling stories around your mission. This can be done in small meetings or large meetings. The key is to never miss an opportunity to cast vision around your mission. Everyone loves stories that impact the heart. Everyone loves to know that what they do matters. Some people just will not fully commit, unless you give them something significant to do. They need to see how the role they play impacts the heart. Your mission shared in a passionate way over and over again with stories will begin changing your culture. People will begin to say, “I love what I get to do!”

Connect your volunteers with others who serve.

It is so inspiring to go into Church and see an army of people ready to serve together. In my church, you can see them because they are all dressed as a team. Everywhere you look you see the same shirt color. There is always a sense of pride that happens in a person when they know they belong on a team with others. They are no longer in the stands watching. They are in the game. They get to feel why everyone else is excited to be there. And never, ever underestimate what eating together will do for your team. If there is ever an opportunity to serve breakfast or eat dinner together, do it! People who eat together connect in greater ways. Food does amazing things to people. Also, look for ways to grow as a team. There are many leadership topics that can be discussed that will connect you as a team. One of my favorites is talking about Lead Small with our small group leaders.

Empower your volunteers to truly lead.

This all starts with proper training. Make sure you have taken the time with each volunteer to really walk through WHY they do what they do and HOW to actually do it. If you give them the tools to be successful, chances are they will be successful.

Once you have trained them and resourced them with GREAT curriculum and great supplies to make it happen, let them go. You will be so blessed to see them lead in ways you might not have thought possible. By the way, students can do this too! And if you really want to encourage their leadership, ask for their opinion on how to make things better. Yes, I mean give them a voice. I suggest doing this through a survey, one on one, or in a small group setting.

Celebrate your volunteers so they know they matter.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a pat on the back or being told “well done.” Words like, “Thank YOU” or “I am so proud of you” go such a long way! Besides telling your leaders how much you care about them, show them through APPRECIATION. Here are a few ways, just to name a few:

  • Volunteer Picnics
  • Recognizing of a special volunteer during a service
  • Recognize birthdays by sending a card to everyone!
  • Sunday Morning Starbucks run for a volunteer
  • Social media recognition for all to see
  • Personal phone calls
  • Personal delivery (of something they love)
  • Free car wash during service
  • Handwritten notes from parents/kids to a volunteer
  • Grant a wish

When there is a healthy volunteer culture, you know it. People are excited to be there. They are on mission and they will recruit others to serve with them. The idea of leaving your ministry becomes laughable. They begin to feel like family and you are more energized being with them. It is a beautiful picture of Jesus when the Church serves together in a healthy way.

Chad is the elementary director at Browns Bridge Community Church in Cumming, Georgia. Browns Bridge is a campus of North Point Ministries. He has the privilege of working in a ministry of 600 volunteers, as they impact families, on a weekly basis. He has been hands-on in church planting for 12 years. Durin

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