Churches all over the globe are struggling to find, train, and keep good volunteers, especially for children’s ministry. So, the David Caleb Cook Foundation launched Volunteer Discipleship Training, a webinar and resources to help ministry leaders recruit and disciple their volunteers. Leaders in Latin America have responded so enthusiastically that we’re hoping to launch this program soon in Africa and India.
Here is a sample from DCCF’s Volunteer Discipleship Training:
Have you ever found it challenging to communicate with your volunteers? Here are some ideas to make communication clear and easy:
Remember that volunteers aren’t thinking about ministry ALL the time. Pastors and church staff members spend all day thinking about and planning ways to reach their ministry goals. But volunteers are doing their jobs during the day and spending time with their families in the evenings. We may get frustrated because they don’t respond until Saturday night. But they are living full, busy lives, too! Thinking about their volunteer service at church may not be at the top of their priority lists. We have to understand and respect that—and do our best to meet our volunteers where they are.
It’s also important to use the communication methods your volunteers actually use. If most of them spend time on social media, a private group is a great place to communicate. But if most of your congregation is not technologically connected, you may have to send out old-fashioned mailings or distribute flyers on Sundays. One of the most effective ways to reach volunteers with a quick update is text. But remember to keep your messages short and the information relevant. Email is still best for sending more in-depth content, details, or longer information, and you can include pictures, video links, links to other webpages, and more.
The most crucial information that you really want your volunteers to know has to be over-communicated. A ministry reality is that as soon as you get tired of saying something, there will be many people just hearing it for the first time. So don’t assume that just because you’ve said it before that everyone has heard it or that because you’ve sent an email that everyone has read it. Instead, share the information again in a different format…and then again in another.
While it is essential to over-communicate important information, it’s important to not communicate so much that people stop listening. Make sure that your communication is information that’s clear and relevant—and make sure you save over-communicating for the important things, not everything.
One of the best ways to ensure you are communicating well with your volunteers is to talk with them when they are already at church. A five- to 10-minute meeting before Sunday school is a much better time to talk with them than a meeting on a random Saturday when they may be busy with other things. And while five minutes might not seem like much time, it’s enough time for important announcements, personal connections, or a quick reminder. You can share prayer requests and pray together. You can even create community within your group with a quick time of sharing. And an added bonus—you’ll get much better attendance!
When you need to have a meeting, make it important and memorable. If it’s not engaging or relevant, people will wonder why they needed to sacrifice their personal time to attend. So make sure your meetings are for important purposes, such as vision casting, team building, or introducing major changes. Keep these meetings as short as possible—and provide food and childcare to make it easy for volunteers to join you!
Effectively communicating with volunteers can be complicated. Every team is unique and, unfortunately, there is not a magical, one-size-fits-all answer. However, with some strategy and willingness to try different things, you can find a plan that fits your ministry and helps all volunteers stay informed.
Please join us in praying that this training resource will help the global church to recruit and disciple the volunteers they need to serve the children in their communities!