Happy teams attract new members almost effortlessly.
When we’re entrenched in our roles, it’s easy to forget the insecurity we once felt...
When teams are cared for, their time is respected, they are confident in their roles, and they have confidence in their leadership. It’s natural for them to recruit and encourage others to join their team.
How can you cultivate a happy team, and turn them into a recruitment engine for your ministry?
These seven keys for effective teambuilding lay out a proven strategy that can be implemented for any team:
The work of ministry can become transactional, if we aren’t intentional about developing relationships with our team members.
If your communication is centered around sharing information, scheduling, and addressing issues, your team is missing out on getting to know you and each other. A transactional team environment is at risk for becoming critical and unhappy, and without relationships, you as a leader may not realize that it’s happening.
Regular team gatherings in a social setting like a park or someone’s home can serve to both inform and provide the opportunity for relationships to deepen. A short note about what you’re learning or what’s inspiring you, at the beginning of an otherwise perfunctory email, adds a personal touch and gives your team a new way to connect to you.
Regular one-on-one check-in conversations don’t have to be long but they go a long way to making sure you’re aware of what’s going on in your team’s lives.
Some on your team may never reach out to a pastor when they’re struggling, but they’ll confide in you. You are uniquely positioned to minister to them, and your team can be the community they need to support them during a difficult time.
Some on your team may have joined, in hopes of finding friendships and feeling like they belong at your church. Encouraging and making space for relationships between your team members can mean the difference between a person thriving or leaving.
When we’re entrenched in our roles, it’s easy to forget the insecurity we once felt, when there was much less assuredness, when we were not capable of doing what we now handle with ease.
New potential recruits are rarely pretrained, and don’t often come forward, out of fear of inadequacy. A solid training program with detailed position descriptions, standard operating procedures, certifications (if necessary), and ongoing education can make novices feel confident from the start.
If you have a good training program, advertise it, because people will respond who are interested in serving, but who felt unqualified before.
Ongoing training for your whole team is also important and can be combined with relationship building events. Keep your team apprised of upgrades and changes in procedures and be sure your team members are adequately trained before their next scheduled shift. Don’t leave notes about changes for them to find on their own, leaving them to figure out how to handle those changes on the fly, before a service.
Path to Leadership
No leader is an island; you can’t lead your team alone.
As you define position descriptions, look for ways to build in levels of responsibility.
Within your ministry, develop a structure that gives volunteers a path from beginning as a new recruit to achieving a position of leadership. A clearly defined path, to a layered leadership structure, will help volunteers set goals and enjoy success.
These leaders can share your load and take on more responsibility. Include them in your planning and decision-making process, seek their input for changes and upgrades, and delegate according to their strengths.
While you may be capable of training for every position, others on your team are also capable. Creating a culture of mentorship on your team will keep seasoned team members being engaged, while helping new members feel welcomed and supported.
Mentors don’t have to be leaders.
In fact, it’s sometimes valuable to pair new recruits with recently trained team members for training. The recently trained volunteer will benefit from verbalizing what they’re getting to be more comfortable with, and they’re most likely to stick to the procedure, rather than communicate years’ worth of shortcuts, workarounds, and the “way we used to do it.”
When possible, give the mature believers on your team opportunities to mentor youth, young adults, and new believers, so they can disciple while they train. Mature believers can be any age; don’t assume that older team members are mature in their faith, or that young team members are immature.
Encouraging relationships for discipleship and accountability will strengthen your team and your church.
Keeping team members and leaders accountable at the team level can correct issues, before they need pastoral intervention.
Have a plan for handling sin and relationship issues that arise, to include graduated and appropriate time off, accompanied by mentoring and support, to keep the person connected and on the path to restoration.
Ignoring issues creates resentment, damages your team’s morale, and undermines your leadership. Even if a person serves in a critical role, it’s better to leave their job undone, than to tolerate willful disobedience, disrespect, or division.
Communicate with your pastoral staff when issues arise and get their approval for your plan of action before implementing it.
If you’re heading up a ministry that requires volunteers to be present long before church starts, or for events that don’t offer children’s activities or child care, consider creating a child care branch of your team.
Some churches have “early-bird” child care, so single parents or both parents can serve on worship and tech teams. For special events and non-Sunday services, it can be hard to get volunteers to commit. When child care is the obstacle, offering it as a service can free your team up to serve.
Work with your children’s ministry leaders, if you decide to implement child care. Your team members’ spouses and teenagers are natural first recruits for this new service, but there are protocols that will need to be followed. This is a great way to help families serve together but be sure to schedule families to serve on the same weeks.
Some families have only one car, and to allow your team member to volunteer, a spouse is already coming to church two hours early but has been sitting around. Having a sense of purpose for that time is much better.
Small teams may struggle to allow regular time off, so even if you have die-hard volunteers who are willing to work every week, keep recruiting until you have multiple people trained to do each position, even yours.
It’s important to give volunteers time to sit with their families and engage with the service, without being concerned with their duties.
A regular schedule of having each team member alternating between serving two weeks on, followed by two weeks off, works well for most positions, to keep procedures top of mind and prevent volunteer fatigue.
Some positions make it impossible for volunteers to engage in worship or pay attention to the message. Giving them time off keeps them plugged in with church members who are not on your team and allows them to connect with God through worship and hearing the Word.
As the ministry leader, you should plan one week off every four or six weeks. Your spiritual growth is every bit as important as your team’s.
When ministry becomes work, you need to be intentional about your worship.
It’s also important for you to stay connected with your church family. If you are married, sit with your spouse in church as often as you can. Your weeks off can be valuable recruiting times, since you’ll have time to talk to people that you don’t normally interact with.
Depending on your ministry or your stress level, you may sometimes want to watch your service from home on your week off, or attend a different church entirely, so you aren’t preoccupied with the behind-the-scenes, or available for the anticipated emergency tap on the shoulder.
Attending different churches from time to time can spark your creativity, as well as help you network with other ministry leaders in your community.
When you build a well-trained, happy team, they want to see you happy and rested as well. You set a good example by taking regular time off.
Happy Teams Attract
Regularly communicate with your team about the positions you’re looking to fill, so your recruiting engine is always running. Always be ready to meet a new prospect, and thank your team for every referral, even the ones that don’t work out.
Make it easy for your team to recruit, by making volunteer applications and onboarding packets readily available.
Once your team is happily humming along, each member will become a valuable recruiter. Your ministry will be easy for them to share with others, and because they are well cared for, well trained, and well rested, they’ll be attractive ambassadors.