Shift Volunteers From Obligation To Opportunity (EDITed)
Stop thinking about what you and your ministry need (volunteers).
Instead, think about what your churchgoers need (discipleship, safety, purpose, a calling bigger than themselves, teaching, training, etc.).
Every volunteer position your church needs also happens to be the perfect opportunity for a congregation member to grow in their personal discipleship journey!
It’s not what you need them to do for you, it’s what they need to do for themselves.
Greeting Ministry Opportunity: Suppose one of your churchgoers wants to learn to overcome anxious feelings and talk to strangers so that they can share the gospel. You can meet their need for discipleship in this area by teaching them how to open conversations with new people, then giving them the opportunity to practice this as a volunteer greeter. Of course, you must also send one of your leaders to consistently check up on them and give them more training.
Once this volunteer has mastered their new skills, you should let them know how valuable they are to the ministry and offer to promote them to a training position (focusing on their need for purpose). Because of their hard work, they now have the skills necessary to help others who are in the same position they used to be in – those who are anxious, but willing to learn.
Doing these things will have multiple results:
- You have removed yourself as the trainer of the greeting team (removing yourself as a bottleneck).
- You gave the volunteer an exclusive opportunity – with 100% freedom to decline – and asked for nothing in return.
- You acknowledged the sacrifices the volunteer made to learn their new skillset, helping them to feel valued.
- You’ve given the volunteer a position they will take ownership over because it meets their own needs for purpose and fulfillment.
From this point forward, stop thinking about volunteer positions as static jobs to push someone into and try to keep them in for as long as possible.
Instead, think of every volunteer position as a valuable discipleship opportunity for your churchgoers to develop into powerful, competent believers. When they master the entry position, move them to the next logical position. Provide them with more time and training so they can continue their discipleship progress.
A Day With The Pastor
Think big. Why not give your most dedicated volunteers days where they can shadow you on the job? You wouldn’t have to change your daily routine, you could just go through your usual tasks and teach them along the way.
Show them what you do, how you do it, and why it makes a difference. Even better, let them do some of the tasks themselves so that they can get hands-on experience. This is for their benefit! They are expanding their skillset, and becoming a mini-you. Like Paul says, “follow me as I follow Christ.”
As you provide valuable training to your most dedicated volunteers (disciples), it will start to feel like there are 4 or 5 of you doing the job instead of just the 1 you. In this way, you will become much more effective.