Turn Your Volunteer List into a Team
I recently attend the Engage One Day 2021 online conference where speakers and seminar leaders talked about ways to re-engage church members as they began to return to church. One of the best seminars of the day was presented by Tracy Yantzer, Guest Experience Director of First Christian Church in Canton, Ohio (USA). Yantzer shared three ways to turn your volunteer list into a team. Enlisting volunteers is much more than placing a warm body in an area, Yantzer said. It is about showcasing their talents for God’s Kingdom and making everyone who walks through the door feel seen and welcomed.
One of the first ways to do this is to forget the list and create a team. See the volunteers on your list as not just a name on a list but as an individual. Focus on the people. Get to know each person individually. Communication is key. Don’t just communicate what needs to be communicated but also encourage them in their day and ministry. Do what you can to make team members feel comfortable and confident.
Next, learn how to identify your volunteers’ strongest skills and talents. Create a gift assessment for all people interested in serving. Find out what gifts they have (see the related article here). Think about if any volunteers are uncomfortable where they are. Reach out and check in on them. As your list becomes a team, ask yourself “Are my team members playing the position they should be?”
Finally, set up a workflow for your volunteer team. These simple eight steps will help you see how follow-up is important in the process.
- Make gift assessments accessible to everyone in the church. Help everyone understand they have a gift.
- Create an “Interested in Serving Form” for all ministries in the church. This will help people narrow down where they are gifted and willing to serve.
- Have a follow-up email ready to go when someone fills out the serving form for your team. Introduce yourself and thank them for their willingness to serve. Go over all the serving roles that are part of your team.
- Create a short, specific follow-up form and include that with your email. This form should include a short detailed description of each role on your team (where they can check where willing to serve) and their availability to serve. Be sure to add the option “Not sure. I’d like to talk more about this.”
- Put them on the serving schedule. But don’t stop here!
- Add new members to your communication group. Use this to keep them in the loop about your (team) vision and how they can be a part of that vision. Updates and housekeeping items are important but always include encouragement. Repeat this step over and over. Making your team members feel seen and loved is a never-ending cycle.
- Train your team. Meet your new team member and show them the ropes. Have new members shadow an experienced person until they feel comfortable on their own. Work with each individual differently. Do not be stuck on just one way of training.
- Invest in your volunteers outside of Sunday. Use Step 6 as a way to also individually connect with team members. Get to know each person for who they are. Your team is a community. Ask how you can pray for them and then do it.
Are you willing to take up the challenge — take your list and turn it into a team? Invest in your team, and they will invest in you.
by Judith Lynn Maxwell
Highlights Editor and Developing Resources Core Strategy Director