3 Things Every Volunteer Needs to Know

3 Things Every Volunteer Needs to Know

The need for volunteers in church isn’t going away anytime soon. Even though people are busier than ever, churches still need volunteers to do the work of the ministry.

That’s why it’s always a great time to take a look at your volunteer ministry: how you recruit, how you train, and how you lead.

When we talk about volunteer training, it’s easy to think about handbooks and meetings.

But training your volunteers involves so much more than that.

Whether they are serving with guest services, family ministry, or the worship team, every volunteer in your church needs to know these three things.

 

#1 – The purpose and mission of the church.

Every volunteer needs to know why your church exists and what you’re trying to accomplish.

Your purpose is the eternal reason your church exists. It’s your deep sense of why. It’s the big-picture and the fundamental calling God has on your church. It might sound something like this:

  • We’re here to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus.
  • We help people love God and love others.
  • We make more and better disciples who make more and better disciples.

Each of those phrases is really big picture. But when you look at them closely, they are never going to really be accomplished. They are long-term, even eternal in nature.

You’re never going to call a meeting and say, “Hey everyone…there are no more potential disciples to make. We’re done with that. So, what’s next?”

Your purpose is like an anchor your church, but what that looks like today can be hard to grasp.

That’s why every church needs a second statement, a mission statement.

While your purpose statement is forever, your mission statement is about now. It’s what you are trying to specifically accomplish in this next season of ministry. If your purpose statement is really broad, your mission statement is specific.

Here’s an example.

NASA might say their purpose is to explore space. That’s their big picture, but it’s always going to be ahead of them. They are never really going accomplish that.

NASA’s current mission might be to land someone on Mars. That has a timeline and a deadline. They can measure progress and one day, they will check it off the list.

See the difference? Purpose is big, but mission is current.

Here’s another example.

A church might say their purpose is to help people far from God experience new life in Christ. That’s a “forever” purpose because it’s always going to out there.

That same church might say their current mission is to start a second campus in the net 24 months. That’s much more specific and in a way, it’s much more relatable.

I know some people use purpose, mission and vision differently, but don’t let the specific terminology confuse you. You need to clarify and communicate a big picture purpose but also a time-bound, specific mission.

 

#2 – How they fit with that purpose and mission.

Once your volunteers know the purpose and mission of your church, the next most important thing to clarify is where they fit.

Don Simmons and Steve Caton write, “People want to get involved where expectations are high. They want to know they play an important role in the work of the church. If you can’t validate them through the ministries of the church, they will find a place that does.”

Your volunteers must be able to draw a clear line from what they do to the purpose and mission of the church. They need to know what they do, but they need to know why it matters.

If you lead people, one of your most important roles is not just casting vision but casting clarity. Your people are looking to you to clarify their role.

Answer questions like…

  • What I do actually do?
  • When do I show up?
  • What training is required?
  • How long is my “term of service?

And beyond tasks, they need to continually hear stories about how their tasks connect to the greater story. Greeters need to know how saying hello to guests is connected to the purpose of your church.  Small group leaders need to know how their activities help the church with the current mission.

The best place to clarify this information is on a simple, one-page volunteer job description.  Every single volunteer who serves in your church needs one.

Clarity like this won’t keep people from serving; it will help them say yes. And clear expectations are a sign of value.

If you’re a Church Fuel member, we have dozens of job descriptions available for you.

 

#3 – Where they go for help.

Lastly, every volunteer needs to know where to go if they have a question, concern, prayer request, need, or problem.  They need a single point of contact.

You can include this information on your volunteer job descriptions.

It’s also helpful to visualize your leadership structure by creating a volunteer org chart. Here’s one we made to organize our volunteer ministry.

This org chart let us visualize who was serving, who was leading them, and where we needed help. It helped us ensure that everyone serving had a volunteer leader responsible for their care.

  • Orange cards represented family ministry.
  • Yellow was the worship team.
  • Red was guest services.
  • And white was our new small group ministry.

Org charts aren’t just to show your direct reports; they are there to show your direct supports.

 

How to Thank Your Key Donors

How to Thank Your Key Donors

Dan Glaze from the National Christian Foundation says the six most important words in fundraising are “thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Just like a personal thank you can go a long way, no show of thanks or gratitude is a recipe for disaster.

Everyone who is giving to your church in some shape or form needs regular communication, sharing stories of success and letting them know where the money goes. You should be thanking first-time givers when they give for the very first time and regular givers who are supporting the ministry year-round.

It’s also appropriate to say a special thank you to those who have funded the ministry in a big way. Today, I want to challenge you to personally thank some of your key donors.

Here are some ideas.

#1 – Send a personal note.

When you want to thank a key donor, do NOT send an e-mail and don’t send a formal letter.

Hand write a thank you note and make it personal.  Put it in an old fashioned envelope, use an old fashioned pen to hand write the address, and use an old fashioned stamp to send it in the old fashioned mail.

Hand written note cards work great because they stand out in the mailbox.  They don’t go in the trashcan with the other junk mail and they don’t go on the desk with the other bills.  They are usually opened right away and sometimes kept out for days.

In other words, personal note cards are meaningful.

Thanking your donors also goes a long way towards keeping them engaged throughout the year and will help you create a culture of generosity.

#2 – Send a small gift.

Once a year, consider sending a small gift to your donors.

It doesn’t have to be expensive, but a small token of appreciation goes a long way when it comes to donor development.

  • A good book that was meaningful to you last year. Let people know why it was special and how you think it could encourage them. One book I’ve sent to others is Soul Keeping by John Ortberg.
  • A custom moleskin notebook embossed with your church logo. You can find those here.
  • A box of the hot, cheesy gooey stuff. Pizza!! You can order a pizza from Lou Malniti’s, one of the best pizzas in Chicago, and they will ship it to whatever address is provided. This will definitely make a positive impression.

#3 – Share inside information.

If people know what’s coming or know the results of what happened, they sometimes feel special.

Information is a form of appreciation.

The people funding your ministry should get a slightly different look at things than everyone else.  They should know how their contributions are making a difference.

Once a quarter, or maybe even once a month, send a donor update email.  You can share a few statistics or an image or two.

This isn’t a church wide email – it’s just an update to your donors.

It won’t cost you any money and it will just take a little bit of time but sharing information with your donors is a great way to say thanks.

Thank Your Donors

When people give to your church, particularly for the first time or in an unusual way, make sure you say thanks.  It’s always appropriate and it’s nearly impossible to overdo.