We all know that our volunteers are the lifeblood of our ministries because without them, our churches would be little more than brick-and-mortar.
But volunteers make the day-to-day operations of our churches possible. They make a church a home, a community, a family for every soul who comes through its doors.
So not only should focus be placed on retaining the volunteers we have, but also on training them, too.
In his ebook, ‘Your Volunteers: Train,’ Chris Mavity explains, ‘Healthy training programs are essential to a thriving volunteer ministry. There are plenty of training kits available on the market, but I would strongly encourage you to spend the time developing your own training material.
‘It’s okay to borrow and learn from other leaders and churches, but don’t expect a cookie-cutter program to work for you right out of the box. Take what you’ve gleaned and make it your own. When you make it your own, you essentially train yourself. The better trainer you are, the better training you can provide for your volunteers.’
So as you develop your training, be sure to keep it …
Understand the purpose or scope of your meetings and tailor your information and activities to that single purpose. If you try to cram too much into one training, you’ll make your volunteers feel like you’re wasting their time. Remember: No one likes drinking through a firehose.
Volunteer training that works in one department of your church will likely be useful – with a few modifications – in others. There will obviously be exceptions but most training should be highly adaptable.
As you grow, your processes will need to be able to adjust to account for the number of volunteers you have. Because even as your numbers grow, remember that most people prefer a smaller, more intimate training – and thankfully, smaller training settings are often more effective, too.
If something isn’t working, don’t be scared to scrap it. Stay focused on results, engagement, participation and productivity. What worked yesterday may not work today – and that’s OK.
Your volunteers are influential members of your congregation and share a sense of ownership.
And taking the time to properly train your volunteers helps you stay focused on your growth and helps you anticipate what’s next as it forces you to think through your long game.
So as you and your team work to improve your ministries and their effectiveness, ask yourself these questions:
- How often do you provide orientation training? Training that provides the information and tools needed by your volunteers creates an environment that enables quick success, resulting in enthusiastic volunteers who are willing, ready and able to serve.
- How often do you provide ongoing training? Investing in the spiritual well-being of your volunteers lets them know that they are important to you beyond their benefit to your church. And the stronger the spiritual life of your volunteers, the more successful your ministries will be.
- How would you rate your training process in ...
Simplicity: Is your training easily understood by anyone or can only an ‘expert’ decipher it?
Spreadability: Does your training help volunteers to serve well in several areas of your church?
Scalability: Is your training adaptable from ministry to ministry and from small to large groups?
Scrappability: Can your training be easily scrapped and replaced if it isn’t proven effective?
Training your volunteers takes commitment, time, effort and energy – but it’s an investment with invaluable returns. When you make a commitment to training and pouring into each of your volunteers, you’ll find that your training will keep everyone focused on growth, your volunteers will become influential members of your congregation, and you’ll be able to better anticipate what’s next.