Training is training is training, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. But it certainly doesn’t have to be difficult either.
In his latest ebook, ‘Your Volunteers: Train,’ Chris Mavity guides us through the process of training our volunteers, and equips us with the strategies and tools required to effectively steward every church’s greatest and most abundant resource – its people.
And when it comes to training your church’s volunteers, there are really two primary types of training to consider: orientation training and ongoing training.
Orientation training helps your volunteers understand the role, responsibilities, and expected outcomes of the assignment. The objective in developing good orientation training is to give your volunteers the minimum guidance, information, and instruction necessary to complete the assignment well, all while helping your volunteers gain confidence.
Ongoing training, however, is focused on life-skills development – helping your volunteers become a better version of themselves.This type of ongoing training communicates that you care about them as people – not just in a ministry capacity – and that you will pour into them to make them better in all aspects of their lives.
Training – specifically orientation training and ongoing training – allows you to communicate expectations, prepare volunteers for service, and impart wisdom. Here is how to implement both to maximize the time and talents of your volunteer team:
Orientation Training: Preparation for the Job at Hand
And according to Mavity, ‘ … orientation training is the most important training that a ministry leader can conduct. Because when we take the time to orient our volunteers to the ministry role, they gain insight and confidence that will serve them well from the very beginning of their newfound role. We help them avoid much of the nerves and doubts of a first-time volunteer.’
Because - newsflash: The people you are training want to do the job; they volunteered to do it! But they’ll need to look to you for guidance, information, and instruction.
So your objective in developing beneficial orientation training is to give the volunteer the minimum amount of guidance, information, and instruction necessary to complete the assignment well. You can’t expect to train your volunteers in every nuance of their position. Just as with learning anything new, most ministry training happens on the job. You can describe the nuances of riding a bike, but it’s not until someone actually gets on the bike that they can apply what they’ve been taught.
During orientation training, your goal should be to simply affirm your volunteers and help them gain confidence.
Ongoing Training: Discipling for the Long Term
Once someone knows how to do the basics of their ministry role, trying to train them more or better is a lot like reteaching someone to ride a bike: Although your first ride may have been a little shaky, you’re good to go once you’ve taken a few rides.
As Mavity explains, ‘The most effective ongoing training is focused on helping your volunteers become a better them. Topics like decision making, parenting, group dynamics, communication, or conflict resolution have a broad application and make people better at being people.’
PRO TIP: Just in case there aren’t enough hours in your day (are there ever?), consider leveraging technology to maximize your training efforts to be mindful of your volunteers’ time and schedules. Allowing your volunteers to walk themselves through training at their own pace, on their own time, from the comfort of home could lend itself to a notable increase in the quality and quantity of training you can provide.
Technology will never replace human interactions, but your church’s process for training your volunteers will impact your potential for growth more than any other aspect of your ministry.
And if you’re willing to effectively and efficiently leverage all of the tools and technologies at your disposal to train your volunteers, you’ll be able to maximize your time, effort, and energy for the greater good of the Kingdom with long-lasting sustainability and longevity.