If there is any single given in church ministry, it is that volunteers make the church go ‘round.
Where would we be in the church without the faithfulness of men, women, boys and girls who give of themselves in service to it and to the Lord?
I’ve been in church leadership for a few decades and have had the privilege of interacting with some of the finest volunteers, with which any church leader could work. I think of guys like Bob, Doug, Tom, Susan, Steve and Joyce … and that just scratches the surface.
However, let me tell you, if the two churches I served rested on those six people, each church would soon find the volunteer core exhausted and in dire need of refreshing.
Churches have to regularly be bringing new blood into the volunteer core, week after week, month after month.
To this end, let me give you a 10-step system to onboard your volunteers. It starts with thinking of and creating a Volunteer Pipeline so-to-speak.
If you will work this system, over time, you will find more volunteers flowing into your ministries and volunteering for longer periods of time than you have ever had before.
[One of the systems to have in place is your follow-up system for church guests. Feel free to download this PDF and get started with a system that will increase your retention of those who visit the church.]
1. Pray for the right volunteers.
Take time to engage the mind of the Lord for the right people with whom to talk. These will be people you will place in your church’s Volunteer Pipeline. Do not just fill slots; be strategic as directed by the Lord.
2. Prepare your options for a specific volunteer.
After God has directed you to the potential volunteer, you need to create a specific job description of what you want done. Further, you need to show where this role fits in the total mission of the church.
3. Arrange to meet with the prospective volunteer.
Contact the volunteer to find a time where they can easily sit down and talk with you. The operative word is “easily.” Make it before or after service on Sunday or Wednesday. Male-to-male or female-to-female you could meet for lunch, coffee or breakfast. Or meet with anyone while including your spouse or their spouse.
4. Share with them the 30,000-foot view and where you’d like them to fit in it.
The Lord has given your church a wonderful, clear mission. Share that with the prospective volunteer and help them see the importance of where this role, of which you are speaking, is critical to the fulfillment of the overall mission. It’s not just a slot to fill.
5. Ask them if they are willing to pray about it.
After you present what you would like to have done, DO NOT ask them to say “yes” or “no” right on the spot. Tell them you would like a few days to pray about them and this role to be sure of what the Lord wants. Then you had better really pray. Ask them if they would be willing to pray about it. Almost no prospective volunteer will say “no” to that. If they do, you don’t want them.
6. Meet again 7 days later.
After this initial conversation, arrange to meet with them again after you have prayed and they have prayed. Frequently, you can suggest same time, same place.
7. Tell them what you think the Lord is saying to you relative to their potential service.
When you meet the second time, you need to lead with what you think the Lord has said to you (hence, you need to really have prayed). DO NOT say, “The Lord told me you are the one.” Do say (if the Lord says this to you), “The Lord has confirmed that you are the kind of person we need to fulfill this critical role.” In saying it this way, you do not put pressure on them to confirm if the Lord is saying the same thing to both of you. As well, you do not pressure them into saying “yes” to something they’ll start and probably quit way sooner than you want.
8. Ask them what they feel the Lord is saying relative to their potential service.
Then you ask them what they are hearing. Frequently you will hear what we like to call excuses, i.e. my kid’s in Little League, I just started a new job, we are getting ready to move across town in 2 months, I’ve got a hangnail on my little toe, etc. Do not get worked up over those responses and do not try to talk them out of the excuse. Just confirm with them that the timing might not be the best and go onto the next prospect.
9. If they say “no”, then put them at the back of the Volunteer Pipeline for recall.
After a prospective volunteer has said “no” then put them at the back of the Volunteer Pipeline and ask them when would be a good time to revisit this opportunity. Or you can suggest a time; generally 3, 6 or 9 months from now.
10. If they say “yes”, then put them in touch with their direct supervisor or begin to schedule their volunteer service.
If they will be working with a ministry coordinator, set up the meeting between the new volunteer and that coordinator. Or if it is directly with you, then be prepared to start their training. Then schedule their first time of volunteer service. In other words, do not waste time; they’ve said “yes”, so put them to work.
Your current volunteers deserve the energy of new friends coming in to ministry to add value to what is already happening.
Prospective volunteers will thank you over and over again for affording them the privilege of being part of the great ministry you serve; wonderful opportunity.
It won’t happen automatically. You have to have the system. When you do, and when you work that system long enough, you will have all the volunteers you need to advance what God has in store for you and the church.
Have at it, my friend! 🙂