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Delegating to Volunteers: 4 Steps to Not Lose Control

Delegating to Volunteers: 4 Steps to Not Lose Control

Improve your ability to multiply yourself and delegate effectively, without sacrificing quality or proper boundaries.

Volunteers make it happen.  They park cars, greet people at the front door, make coffee, teach our children, and much more.  Sunday services just wouldn't function properly without them.  As your church grows, the need for more volunteers increases as well.  That means your ability to multiply yourself and delegate effectively, without sacrificing quality or proper boundaries, must grow too. 

Delegation is a scary word for some folks.  It implies a loss of control, of diminishing quality as you get farther and farther away from your direct influence.  Delegating to volunteers can be even scarier since there's no performance evaluation or paycheck to hold over their heads (not that anyone would do that). 

Delegation doesn't have to result in an undesirable final product or less-than-ideal results.  In fact, delegating to dedicated, talented volunteers can result in something even better than you could come up with on your own (especially with your limited time). 

So how do we achieve "delegation utopia?" 

Here are a few tips to help you get there:

Delegation Step #1:  Get to know your volunteers

You wouldn't delegate taking care of your children to someone you just met, right?  Well, it's a similar concept when it comes to delegating to volunteers.  You need to know this person before you start trusting him with the sermon lyrics on the screen or creating designs for the youth lock-in posters.  Find out where he works, what type of jobs he's had in the past, what are his hobbies, how did he come to Christ, how long has he been attending your church, etc.  This shouldn’t be an interrogation, mind you, but should be knowledge gained over the course of a few weeks.

Delegation Step #2:  Share the vision

If I don't know what your vision is for the women's ministry, I'm going to have a hard time creating blog posts that effectively convey that heart and mission.  Share the vision you have for your ministry department with your volunteers.  Make sure they know why this ministry exists, who you're trying to reach, what changes you want to see in people's lives, and how you prefer to communicate with that particular group.  Your volunteers will be more emotionally invested in their efforts if they understand the "why" behind the "what." 

Delegation Step #3: Give them simple stuff first

Don't hand over the task of creating all the graphics for a new men's retreat to someone who just started serving in your department.  He may have a different design style than you're looking for or may not be the best person for that assignment.  Instead, ask him to give you 2-3 concepts for a poster by a specific deadline.  Provide him with a few examples of what you've done in the past so he gets an idea of the types of design that best fit this ministry area.  Pay attention to the types of questions he asks (or if he doesn't ask any).  Also, note whether he meets the deadline.  If he's asking good questions, meets the deadline, and develops 2-3 options that are at least headed in the right direction, then you may have a potential rock star volunteer on your hands. 

Delegation Step #4: Celebrate & give credit

As you start to trust a volunteer with more responsibility and she's successful with each task, celebrate her wins.  This can be as simple as a hand-written "thank-you" note or thanking her for her hard work at the next volunteer team meeting.  Give credit where credit is due and let others know about the great job she did leading the youth group or designing a set for a special event. 

The opportunity to serve alongside volunteers isn't simply about getting the work done.  It's a chance to disciple, learn from, and cultivate new friendships.  As you get to know your volunteers, share your ministry vision with them, trust them with more responsibility over time, and celebrate their wins, you'll build a team who can accomplish much for the Kingdom.

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