Supporting Your Greatest Ministry Asset
At some point, your volunteers will need support in order to succeed. None of us have everything it takes to succeed at everything all the time. And the manner in which you support your volunteers will contribute immensely to their overall success in ministry.
In fact, one could argue that an unsupported volunteer is a temporary volunteer. Support leads to success, success leads to longevity, and longevity leads to a healthy ministry.
And there are three categories of support: proactive, reactive, and platforming. So let’s look at each of these in detail.
Proactive support – anything done to support the ministry efforts of the volunteer prior to them serving – will lay the foundation upon which you build your ministry. As leaders, our job is to prepare everything volunteers need in advance of their time to volunteer so they’re free to do what they’ve come to do – serve others.
Reactive support means being available to help solve problems or issues. We all encounter problems we can’t solve or face unfamiliar circumstances as we attempt something new. When those things happen to volunteers, they need someone who is available to help them solve the problem or understand the circumstances; someone accessible when an unusual request or obstacle comes along.
Platform support is the ultimate support and is extended to proven volunteer leaders who deserve a platform of their own. When volunteers show exceptional leadership, commitment and productivity, give them prominent roles and credit them publicly for a job well done. Platforming them will extend their influence and yours.
With these three support elements, your volunteers will be able to serve people with complete confidence because ministry is more than an invitation that says, ‘Come, join me in the sandbox;’ it’s an invitation that says, ‘Here, you own the sandbox.’ And when your volunteers feel that they own the sandbox, they feel as if they are genuinely contributing to a greater good – because they are.
And when you strike the proper balance between involvement and empowerment, you can platform for greater influence and set your ministry apart from all others.
Monitoring Your Greatest Ministry Asset
Imagine being told a story, one whose suspense kept building, luring you closer and closer to the edge of your seat. As the listener, each riveting detail draws you deeper into the story and elicits a more profound emotional investment. And then right as the story reaches its crescendo … POOF! The storyteller abruptly changes the subject.
‘But … but … what happened to the dog? And did the parachute ever open?’
Because the truth is that outcomes matter. And the same holds true for ministry – we have to inspect what we expect.
And monitoring is an inspection of outcomes in order to know that your volunteers’ activities and results are aligned with your vision.
Because ultimately – try as we might to deny it at times – numbers matter. They tell a critical part of our story so if we don’t inspect outcomes and record them, we’re missing a critical part of our story.
Properly understood and utilized numbers can help you plan effectively and make better decisions. And with a church management system in place to help you manage the data you are collecting about your volunteers throughout the entire process, you can inform, affirm, validate and challenge your assumptions about your ministry. Objective data and accurate information fuel wise, prudent decisions.
Monitoring well will help you gain a clear, accurate perspective and will give you the specific details you need to lead well.
Here are four key areas to monitor in your volunteer ministry:
Volunteers can’t do ministry if they aren’t present. And often, their absence is an indication that something isn’t connecting with them or something has changed in their lives – and identifying that presents a ministry opportunity that may have otherwise been missed.
Because healthy volunteer ministry is about placing the right people in the right positions at the right time, monitoring names – and not simply numbers – lets you know who is doing what and where.
Retention is about how well and for how long your volunteers stay engaged in a particular ministry, and retention increases with a clear understanding of the role, its responsibilities, and your expectations.
It’s important to measure the ministry outcomes that are important to you – and doing so will give a sense of health, vitality and significance to your volunteers.
Our ability to monitor helps us prioritize our focus and resources to get the most return for our effort.
With proper monitoring, you can quickly learn what’s working and what’s not, then make the necessary adjustments to ensure that you are accomplishing what you set out to accomplish. It also ensures that no one is being overlooked or forgotten.
Monitoring reinforces the message that people are valued and that they matter – because they do!