It goes without saying that volunteers are invaluable in the church. Depending on the size and structure of you church volunteer roles can look like many things. They may be leading teams, helping with finances, cleaning the building, or even filling in to preach. Just because they are not collecting a paycheck from the church doesn't make them less than someone who is, because without them, there wouldn't be a church to hire people. So how do you go about finding, training and effectively using volunteers? In Part one, I want to start with finding those volunteers.
As I work with churches on their Production systems and teams, I would have to say the number one question I receive is, "How do I get more people serving?" This isn't just for my area of expertise in production either, every area in the church seems to be constantly looking for ways to engage more people. I feel people look at me dumb founded when I ask them have they really asked people to join? Getting volunteers isn't like the movie Field of Dreams, just because you built it, doesn't mean they'll come.
Make the Ask
The congregation won't always assume a need. I know this can seem too simple to just make "the ask", but it is the number one way to grow your volunteer numbers. The trick is to find the best avenue for doing it. For some churches announcing it in the bulletin is enough. For others, they may need an in person announcement from the stage. You don't want to guilt anyone into serving, but you must people of the need. The average attendee does not appreciate, nor are they aware of how many people it takes to produce a service. This is why "the ask" is so crucial, but gets undersold because it so obvious.
Have Tried an Open House?
Hosting "Open Houses" is a great way for people to come and see what is happening. In my department, technical arts, people love seeing "behind the scenes." Inviting people to come checkout a rehearsal, touch the gear, and peak behind the curtain is a no stress, no sales pitch way to get people exposed and excited to be on board. It may not be a fit for them, but at least they are more aware of what is needed and may know someone who would be interested.
I once saw in a doctor's office a sign that read, "The best compliment you can give is a referral." I think that is true in ministry as well. When another volunteer comes along side and invites another to join them, it's a powerful and it multiples their attraction. I hope that every weekend one of my volunteers has brought a friend to shadow somewhere on my team, just to check it out. In our case, we keep extra headsets in the production area just for this so they can be a part of what is happening.
Keep the process as simple as possible.
No one wants to jump through a lot of hoops just to get involved. Now I am not saying skipping over training or needed steps like background checks for people working with children. What I am saying is, you need to have a clear and stated plan for implementing someone when they say they want to get involved. Having an established system will help keep people from falling through the cracks as well in an ever increasing inbox of emails.
I like the web signup approach personally. I carry special business cards that are designed for soon to be volunteers. These cards have nothing to do with me. They are designed to walk the person through the first steps of joining my team. On a website created for them, there are Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) they can peruse then sign up using a form. This form is great, for several reasons. First, it gets stored outside of my inbox, not destined to be lost. Second, it gives me the information I need to plug them into our database. The whole process should take the new person only a few minutes. It's not a congressional hearing, they want to serve, so get them in and get start training them