Anyone who has been in ministry, paid or otherwise, for any length of time knows this one truth: all ministries need volunteers. Even if your church is blessed to have more than one pastor or minister on staff, your church still relies on the work of volunteers to ensure that everything from the Sunday morning service to the food pantry to the children’s worship runs smoothly. Keeping volunteers happy and cared for often means keeping your church running as it should. With that in mind here are 4 common ways many churches ruin their church volunteer ministries. Hopefully knowing these in advance will keep you from having unhealthy and unhappy church volunteers.
Volunteers need to know what is expected of them and those expectations cannot be set without communication. But it is important to keep in mind that not just any communication will do. It has been said that people need to hear information 5 different ways for it to register just once. Relying on just an email or just the church bulletin to communicate with your volunteers is likely going to mean many miss the news you need them to have.
We all know that pastors can get burnt out doing ministry work, but the truth is so can your volunteers. Especially since many volunteers are volunteering in their free time outside of working a full-time job and caring for their families. Not all volunteers are single retirees with lots of free time! It’s important to make certain to tell your volunteers to take time off. And then make certain they take it. That may require telling a volunteer that you will not be assigning them any place to serve for a few weeks, but that is a necessary step to not overworking your ministry volunteers.
If you are looking for volunteers to run the sound booth on Sunday mornings, you know that is going to require some training. But all ministry volunteers, from your Sunday morning greeters to your children’s ministry teachers, need some kind of training. Training is important not just to make certain that your volunteers know what to do but also to show your volunteers that you care about them. If you take the time to train your volunteers you are telling them that you care about them enough to make certain their perfectly equipped to handle anything thrown at them while they volunteer.
This is perhaps the most important thing churches forget to do for their volunteers. If your church cannot get by without the work and support of volunteers, then your church cannot afford to celebrate your volunteers as a way to say thank you for all the work they do. This does not have to be anything elaborate, something simple like a Starbucks gift card and recognition on a Sunday morning goes a long way.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of many church ministries. If you avoid these 4 mistakes, you’ll have happy volunteers and a more successful ministry.