Finding and keeping church volunteers for any organization or event can be difficult, and for a church, this challenge usually is increased. There are natural reasons for it. First, church happens weekly. There’s no perceived end and the schedule can feel exhausting. Second, people have tremendous needs and often see their church attendance as a time to alleviate life’s pressures. Third, they may have a mistaken view of the clergy’s role to, “take care of it all”. Some of the following 10 ways to recruit and keep volunteers may seem obvious, but they are often overlooked.
10 Proven Ways to Recruit and Keep Church Volunteers
- Be Organized and Knowledgeable
It means so much to have a clear plan to use volunteers and a good number in mind to accomplish the assigned task. Too few or too many volunteers can lead to confusion or a lack of felt need. List what needs accomplishing and coordinate with other staff members to make sure the need and ways to support it match up. You might also want to match up life skills and knowledge with your volunteers to see if their attributes and gifting line up with the roles needed.
- Make Your Sign-Up Easy
We suggest online sign-ups because it’s so easy to track and keep organized. With ShareFaith, there’s a built-in signup capability that interfaces with your website. Making sign-ups convenient is a huge part of being organized.
- Be Genuine
Being genuine about volunteer support goes a long way to recruiting volunteers and it helps foster that much-needed word-of-mouth effect to grow your program.
- Reflect Leadership
It’s always a privilege to volunteer alongside one of the church pastors. It provides that ever-present Truth that we are all on equal footing as the Body of Christ. Consider assigning a pastoral representative to come alongside a group of volunteers and work with them as well as shepherd their time and energy with opening and closing prayers.
- Celebrate Involvement
Think of ways to celebrate your volunteers. Many churches host a volunteer dinner. You may also want to consider birthday cards and asking pastors to write personal thank yous throughout the year. This takes some extra coordination, but you’ll not only encourage your volunteers, you’ll be caring for them.
- Be Nice
Nothing is more detrimental to your program than a coordinator who may be overbearing and even unkind. It’s important to create opportunities for faithful volunteers to move into coordinator roles. Be guarded about someone who hasn’t had much experience and is thrust into coordination without any experience in your church.
- Provide Training
No matter the tasks, train your volunteers. Provide succinct face-to-face training even if you emailed out directions. Never rely on emails alone. Make sure to take some focused time to help everyone understand the goals at hand and who is responsible for what piece of the whole project.
- Be Conscious of the Overwhelming Effect
If you’re just beginning a volunteer program it can be easy to fall into the trap of asking the same point people to be involved. We encourage you to branch out and ask others. It will help strengthen your program by giving it a depth of people with given duties they can perform if necessary. This is not to say that you avoid recurring leadership opportunities from seasoned volunteers, but just be careful to not overwhelm a few and underwhelm many others who would otherwise lend their time. And, consider assigning such leadership in a cycle so everyone gets moments in the year to worship and fellowship without responsibilities.
- Survey Your Team
Make sure your volunteer teams know their voices are heard. Give them an outlet by way of an online survey or a debriefing session after large events. Inviting their comments will create openness and strengthen your programs to be better in the future.
This is the most important point. Pray for your volunteers, that each of them may be empowered with the Gospel that gives life and that God might use them powerfully to minister to the needs of the church community and beyond.
Church volunteers are hard to find and even harder to retain. The fact that this is a voluntary position can either be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the personality of the person. There are a lot of different variables to consider in recruiting volunteers. But working through these 10 proven ways to recruit church volunteers, you will be better prepared to handle those people that God blesses you with.
Additional Resources: Click here for 10 Tips for Providing a Great Church Volunteer Experience