November 18, 2013

The Volunteer Myth: If You Need Them, They Will Come


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Tell me if this sounds familiar:

Your nursery workers look…irritated. They had a passion for ministering to young parents by providing a safe and nurturing environment for their little ones, but that fire is gone. They’ve been doing this too long. They only rotate off one Sunday a month. They’re sick of kids. They seem sick of church. The burnout is outpacing the new sign-ups.

Or this:Field of Dreams Pat

The care ministry team can’t get off the ground. You want to empower your church members to do ministry themselves, to pray for and encourage people in need each week. But the plea for volunteers during a Sunday morning service hasn’t yielded names on the clipboard in the lobby. You feel a little stuck.

While far from exhaustive, these two examples hit on a few of the top problems churches have when trying to build a volunteer force.

How do you move the needle in this arena? Start by evaluating your church on these three points.

1) Are you creatively and consistently sharing how volunteer roles help the church accomplish its vision?

People want to be a part of something big! They want to know their time and energy and commitment is advancing the Kingdom. It’s your job to show them that it is. What creative method have you used lately in your quest for new volunteers?

2) Are you making it simple to find volunteer opportunities and sign up?

We recommend having a go-to place, be it on your website or at a prominent spot where people congregate in your building (or both!), that is always up-to-date on volunteer opportunities. This should include current needs and ongoing opportunities, along with a breakdown of roles, responsibilities, time commitment and ministry leader contacts.

If this spot has a person staffing a table, that person needs to be a passionate ambassador for the church’s mission, vision and values and able to easily communicate to potential volunteers how each opportunity to serve connects to the church’s purpose.

If a website, make the vision front and center, and consider including videos from volunteers in different ministries that provide potential volunteers with an idea of what it’s like to serve in that area.

Make signing up easy and guarantee every inquiry into a volunteer role will receive a prompt response.

3) Are you consistently saying “thank you” and honoring your volunteers?

The Church is the Body of Christ, and it takes all of us with all of our gifts, time and passion to spread His message. Do your volunteers understand you appreciate their decision to serve alongside you? Communication of thanks to volunteers should be frequent and thoughtful – not just a “thank you” email every month. Think outside the box.

Photo Credit: Pat via Flickr cc

Tiffany Deluccia -

Tiffany is our Director of Sales & Marketing. She graduated from Clemson University, and before joining The Unstuck Group, worked in public relations with major national retail brands, nonprofits and churches on content creation, strategic planning, communication consulting, social media and media relations.

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