In his follow-up to ‘Your Volunteers: Recruit,’ Chris Mavity’s ‘Your Volunteers: Train’ explains that once you have recruited someone – moving them from a come-and-see to a come-and-serve mindset – you’ll need to train them to serve in their newfound ministry role.
Training – we’ll focus not only on the differences between training and equipping, but also what shape that takes with your volunteers – allows you to communicate expectations, prepare volunteers for service, and impart wisdom.
Because although some leaders may assume that training is nothing more than a list of dos and don’ts, Mavity believes training is the key to influencing future behavior.
He explains, “Training allows you to communicate expectations, prepare volunteers for service, and impart wisdom and know-how. Training is truly more important than many of us realize.”
And often, the terms ‘training’ and ‘equipping’ are used interchangeably as they are often confused – and mistaken for synonyms. But there are distinctions:
- Training provides input to influence a person’s actions, attitudes, and behaviors. And training your volunteers helps them achieve the specific ministry outcomes you want.
- Equipping provides the resources and equipment a person needs to perform the duties associated with their roles and responsibilities. Mavity goes on to give the example of supplying – or equipping – a custodian with a vacuum cleaner, a data entry volunteer with a computer, and a Sunday school teacher with a classroom and supplies.
So now knowing and recognizing those differences, we’ll focus on the training.
Training volunteers is a critical component of pouring into our communities and spreading the Gospel.
But, as it would be safe to guess, nothing ‘critical’ ever comes ‘easily.’ Volunteer scheduling conflicts and limited time available to devote to training and equipping volunteers prove to be challenging for church leaders – but certainly not impossible.
But if we rethink our approach to volunteer training and let our volunteers walk themselves through training at their own pace, on their own time, from the comfort of home, we could very well see a sizeable shift in the quality and quantity of training we can provide those who so sacrificially give of their time, talents, and treasures to us.
Consider all the technology we use today. People earn college degrees online, participate in book clubs without ever meeting in person, and actively engage in social networks.
So it begs the questions: Why not utilize this same approach to improve our strategy for training our volunteers?
Sure, technology can take away from the intimacy of a face-to-face training, but technology will never replace the human interactions we need to grow as disciples. However, when it comes to helping churches operate more efficiently and effectively, churches stand to benefit from leveraging technology as a means to equip the saints for ministry.
Because human interactions alone can’t replace process; people and process must work together to realize a goal.
For a church to successfully support and equip their volunteer leaders, they must recognize that both people and process are critical – and complementary – components for training volunteers.
So technology serves to bridge the gap between our people and our process; between our heart and our mind. It is as crucial for training and equipping volunteer leaders as it is for helping leaders identify potential volunteers, and acts as the safety net volunteers can use to ensure no one is falling through the cracks.
Here are four ways technology can help you support your volunteers:
1. It helps you develop a process for training your volunteers on their terms.
Churches which rely exclusively on face-to-face training rarely experience the multiplying effect of discipleship. Technology enables you to develop a process for training your volunteers and empowers them by allowing them to determine the time, place, and pace that best suits them.
2. It equips your volunteers with the right training for the job.
Supporting your volunteers starts with understanding their needs. One of the most difficult aspects of volunteer training is specificity – and technology can help equip your volunteers with the specific skills and information necessary to fulfill their exact roles and responsibilities.
3. It allows you to provide ongoing training.
While your volunteers may not have time to devote an entire day to training, technology enables you to offer ongoing, supplemental training online. This helps you create an intentional training program that is convenient for your volunteer leaders, and mindful of their time.
4. It makes volunteers feel appreciated.
A ‘thank you’ goes a long way, but being mindful of their time shows a volunteer they’re appreciated. Technology allows you to proactively take their needs into consideration when asking for their time.
Your church’s process for training your volunteers impacts your potential for growth more than any other aspect of your ministry, and technology can empower us to be better stewards of the people God has entrusted to us.