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How To Lead Your Volunteers

I have been thinking a lot about volunteers recently, particularly since everyone in my ministry downline happens to to be volunteer. In churches, the work of ministry happens because of volunteers. Since volunteers make up 95% of the ministry workforce, the question that we need to grapple with is, how do we lead and recruit volunteers? Here are just a couple of my thoughts...feel free to comment and add your own.

1. Vision is their paycheck. A volunteer isn't motivated and driven by a paycheck (hence the label volunteer :-) ), so what gets a volunteer to step up to the plate? Vision. Vision, that is compelling and communicated often, is key for volunteers. They want to know how their service in their corner of the church fits into the overarching mosaic of the church's vision, mission and purpose. Vision not only keeps volunteers motivated but it is the essence of recruiting volunteers. You want people to join your ministry team? Share the vision. People respond more to communicating "vision" rather than just merely sharing "need".

2. You need to give people volunteering on-ramps. How do people connect with volunteering opportunities in your church? What is the process? Is it simple? Is it clear? At CMDA Atlanta we are working on clear and simply on-ramps giving people the opportunity to serve. Very often people want to serve - they just need to know how.

3. Volunteers need to be celebrated. It is true that most people volunteer because they want to use their gifts and make a difference. They are not overtly looking for praise and recognition, but that doesn't mean that they don't deserve it. Whether it be big, huge volunteer appreciation gatherings or simply walking in the nursery and thanking the lady who is holding a crying baby - volunteers did to be celebrated.

4. Volunteers often times will only rise to the level of your expectations. There are some volunteers who will go well beyond the call of duty, but most volunteers will serve up to the bar that you set. So set the bar high. Too often we are afraid to ask a lot from our volunteers - that is a mistake. Ask boldly, ask big! You will be surprised how motivated volunteers are willing to serve.

5. Volunteers will only work under leaders. People that are serving in your church need clear direction. You need to lead them. Make sure that you do your due diligence in planning and preparation as a leader. At the same time, don't worry if your don't have all the answers. As a leader you should concentrate about being clear with your volunteers even if you are not certain about every detail (via Andy Stanley)

6. Volunteers recruit other volunteers. One of the biggest issues for leaders is recruitment. As a leader, you have tapped into our sphere of relationships and may now feel tapped out. As a leader, you don't and shouldn't be the key recruiter. Encourage your volunteers to recruit their friends. People love to serve with their friends and they have a circle of friends and relationships that you probably don't have.

What are some of your thoughts about leading volunteers in your ministry context?


fantastic ideas, well written, great job

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