10 Incredibly Effective Volunteer Strategies to Keep You from Scrambling on Sunday
Church Production

10 Incredibly Effective Volunteer Strategies to Keep You from Scrambling on Sunday

By Cathy Hutchison
April 1, 2016 10:09 am EST

Topics: Church in the Digital World
Tags: education, training, volunteers,

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Ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in a week to get ready for Sunday? Is it hard to find enough skilled volunteers to help out?

Or maybe it just feels like as soon as you get someone you rely on, they get a job transfer to Texas.

You know there has to be a better way—and there is.

You can make your recruiting, development and retaining volunteers much more effective with some advice from church technical directors who are making it work:

1. Make sure your church has a clear mission statement and that you can communicate it clearly.

Before you recruit or train volunteers, ensure that your ministry has a strong mission statement and core values. Precisely communicating your ministry’s mission and values will allow you to attract and retain volunteers who share a common goal and attitude. – Bryan Bailey, Minister of Media, First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX @worshipmediaman

2. Informal recruiting can be highly effective.

At Watermark, we have two primary means of recruiting volunteers. The first, is that following each of our New Member classes we host a Ministry Fair where new members can speak with representatives from each ministry to learn about the opportunities that are present throughout the church. This exercise often yields a list of names with which we can follow up, but the number of volunteers that we get in return is very low. We have much better success in keeping our senses keen when someone is walking by the booth, or introduces themselves following a service. Often, those interested in what is happening have a tendency to walk by the booth with necks craned. The more socially adept will tend to engage in conversation, asking questions. All of our teams are encouraged to answer any questions, and let them know that there are opportunities to join us. – Ryan Howell, Director of Arts, Watermark Church, Dallas, TX @rhowell

3. Develop relationships outside of the booth.

Tap into your team’s circle of influence. As a team leader, my circle of influence can only reach a limited number of people. By creating a culture of inviting new people, the team can reach many more people than I can reach on my own. – Chris Kozen, Valley Creek Church, Flower Mound, TX @ChrisKozen

4. Never stop recruiting.

One of the many pieces of advice I would give is never stop recruiting. I think as a church we fill are schedules and say “whew I have exactly what I need” then someone moves or gets sick and we are in chaos again. Never stop recruiting or looking for the next recruit. Set up apprenticeship/intern positions so someone is always shadowing your best Techs. What’s great about the digital world is we can post videos of what we do so more people can understand more about it. – Dennis Choy, Communications/Technology/Production Pastor, North Coast Church, Vista, CA @DennisChoy

5. Don’t skimp on the training.

Make sure to clearly communicate expectations and processes from the beginning. Provide accurate training materials and checklists to give your volunteers confidence in the job you are asking them to do. With resources like YouTube, Vimeo, Planning Center Online, and many others, ministries have the ability to deliver training content to volunteers in just about any format that person needs to consume it. Use whatever tools necessary to provide volunteers with the confidence and knowledge to execute with excellence. – Bryan Bailey, Director of Media and Production, First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX @worshipmediaman

6. Take a distributed approach to developing volunteers.

Over the years my approach has shifted. I used to do orientation and training times throughout the year. I have learned that without an immediate outlet to start applying the knowledge they would forget what they had learned, plus, they would not have a good idea of the actual weekend work load. We now do all training through shadowing. Our techs serve on a 3-5 week rotation, so, they may shadow train for several months before flying on their own. By shadowing they can have clear expectations on what a real weekend feels like.– Wyatt Johnston, Tech.Arts Director, Fellowship Bible Church, Topeka, KS @WyattJohnston

7. Tailor training to the level of experience.

At Watermark, we do not require that anyone have prior experience. We have a simple five-step process that we use. 1) I do, you watch; 2) I do, you help, 3) You do, I help; 4) You do, I watch; 5) Fly solo. The length it takes to work through the five-steps is dependent on the pace with which the new volunteer is understanding the role and the technology. – Ryan Howell, Director of Arts, Watermark Church, Dallas, TX @rhowell

8. Have the hard conversation and reassign when needed.

If you have a volunteer repeatedly making the same mistake (and external causes beyond their control have been ruled out), then they either do not have the appropriate amount of training or do not have the necessary aptitude for the role and a reassignment should be evaluated. Allowing the volunteer to remain in that role (regardless of tenure) can be damaging to the church as well as the individual volunteer. The process of reassignment is critical that it is done properly when needed, such as when churches grow and launch new buildings or campuses. Sometimes the existing aptitudes and skill-sets may not be adequate for the new need and that is when we rely solely on the relationship we have built with the volunteer in order to navigate that conversation and reassignment. – Dave Pullin, Director of Technical Arts, Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, KS @DavePullin

Fiercely protect the culture and unity within your team, even if that means transitioning someone off of the team. Champion and protect your team. Create a culture of honor and celebrate the good things that God is doing. – Chris Kozen, Valley Creek Church, Flower Mound, TX @ChrisKozen

9. No one wants to serve in a high-anxiety environment.

Too often we place the importance of the task- be it video, graphics, lighting, or audio, over the importance of the person. The message this approach sends to the volunteer is that performance quality is the ultimate measurable, and failure is something to be feared. This produces a high-anxiety work environment for the volunteer, and nobody wants to serve in that type of environment. These are the expectations under which you will see high turnover in volunteers, and possibly even staff. Our approach, rather, is to say that the person is just as important as the task. This communicates that failure is nothing to be afraid of, and although we want to strive for excellence, there won’t be several people breathing down the volunteer’s neck if a mistake was made. – Dave Pullin, Director of Technical Arts, Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, KS @DavePullin

10. Security and love can result in excellence.

It is critical to develop relationships with volunteers. Simply giving them a task does not edify them or address the life issues they bring with them. I’ve found people are coming with all of their hurts, struggles and frustrations and really what they want is someone that will listen and pray over them not another part-time job. For me, we have to separate ourselves from the technology realizing we aren't interacting with robots but instead human souls that God knitted together. If relationships are the focal point as Jesus demonstrated, then I believe, and have experienced, that the technology takes care of itself. If anything, a higher level of excellence is achieved because each person feels secure and loved. – Bill Gross, Director of Production Arts, Savannah Christian Church, Savannah GA

Do you have your own ideas of things that are working? Share with us in the comments below.


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In section 7 when talking about the five step training process. Is each step typically a training session each where the whole process is 5 sessions with the trainee? Or could there be three instances where you and your trainee sit down and they "watch" while you "do". I'd love to hear how many trainings do you typically see it happening within. Or does it differ? I hope this question makes sense.

By Jesse | April 14, 2016


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