Three 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.

What your church volunteers need to know

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.
An org chart lets you visualize who is serving, who is leading them, and where help is needed. It can help ensure that everyone serving had a volunteer leader responsible for their care. An example of color-coding your org chart includes:

  • Orange cards represent family ministry.
  • Yellow cards show the worship team.
  • Red cards equal guest service teams.
  • And white cards can represent small group ministry.

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

Leading healthy volunteers

How do you take the stuff in this post and put legs on it? From someone who used to be a pastor and church planter, I know it can be frustrating to implement.
We know you care deeply about leading a healthy, growing church because it means leading more people to Jesus. Leading volunteers is an integral part of that process so everyone can spend time on what they're best at. As a result, we created a free guide to leading volunteers that will bring clarity and help begin to alleviate your frustrations.
Get your FREE copy of the Senior Pastor's Guide to Leading Volunteers today.