Team Building
August 23, 2021

7 Ways to Get People to Volunteer at Your Church

7 Ways to Get People to Volunteer at Your Church

Churches cannot operate without a great army of positive volunteers.

(Pictured above: some of our awesome college leadership team!)

Building a consistent team of volunteers takes great leadership.

The true test of a good leader is being able to lead volunteers. 

Volunteers know that they don’t have to follow you. 

They aren’t getting paid. They can quit at any time.

They follow because they want to.

This post is all about how we can raise up people who want to serve at our churches and value serving.

Keep reading for 7 ways to get people to volunteer at your church, get rid of the selfishness, while also setting up your volunteers for success.

Volunteering Can Change A Person’s Life 

For the last 10 years, I’ve led many types of church volunteer teams at a primarily volunteer run church. We are talking 1-2 staff members plus the Pastors.

My husband and I have run the college service the last 7 years, where we put together a team of 25+ brand new volunteers to serve at our college service within a few months time.

We have a lot of students come and go through the years, so training new volunteers is crucial to doing anything.

I’m passionate about leading volunteers because when I came to church, I felt like I had nothing to offer. I felt like the last person picked on the team. I hid myself in the back of the room so I wouldn’t be noticed.

The fact that people believed in me and believed I could help others in small and big ways, has completely changed the course of my life. I would have never even tried if someone didn’t believe in me. 

People think I am charismatic and outgoing, but I always have to remind them, this is not who I was before God and people believed in me.

I went from serving on the Welcome Team barely being able to talk to people, to leading a small group for 10 years counting and our college ministry with my husband for 7 years counting. 

I realized all God needs is a willing person, you don’t have to be the best to offer something. 

Everyone can serve. Everyone can contribute. 

Plus, the sooner you can get someone to volunteer in your church, the sooner they will get connected. We always attempt to get people serving as soon as possible.

Your volunteer process is crucial to your growth and health as a church. 

Volunteering has Become Selfish Instead of Selfless 

Unfortunately, the volunteer conversation in church’s has become “how do we not burn out our volunteers” instead of “how can we serve God selflessly.” 

It is filtering in from America’s “self care” and “me first” culture. 

Volunteering has become selfish instead of selfless. 

This mindset is especially growing because of COVID. 

Covid has become an excuse for some people to be selfish with their time and we need to help change that by always coming back to biblical principles of serving.  

Volunteering has so many huge benefits for the volunteer like:

  • Getting more connected in the church
  • Finding you gifts and talents from God
  • Learning to have responsibility 
  • Learning to be selfless and help others 
  • Meeting new people and growing your community 
  • A healthy way to spend your time

We need to focus on the benefits people receive from volunteering versus always trying to help people not be “burnt out”. 

When we project on people they are “burnt out” we create a toxic, non biblical church culture. 

Keep reading for 7 ways to get people to volunteer at your church, get rid of the selfishness, while also setting up your volunteers for success.

7 Ways to Get People to Volunteer at Your Church

#1 Want Serving for People, not from People

We need to see serving from a new perspective in order to be great volunteer leaders.

Some people have the mindset that the church needs to be served. 

When in fact, the church is here TO serve, not to BE served (like Jesus). 

This concept must be taught clearly to our volunteers. 

Included in this same mindset is that people believe people shouldn’t serve if they need healing (i.e. they are stressed, emotional, mental health issues, overwhelmed with life etc.)

It is like saying that serving and helping others is bad for you and you should instead focus on yourself first. 

When in reality and according to research, serving actually helps the person who serves.

Research shows that when we reach out to others in a supportive way, we increase our own healing by a factor of 63%! We are designed to serve each other. (Think Learn Succeed by Dr. Caroline Leaf, Page 92)

Doing something for someone else, even in a small way, is an essential part of a healing protocol. 

Change your language and mindset when recruiting volunteers, they will feel the difference. 

#2 Clearly Define Roles To Minimize Unmet Expectations 

Undefined roles and expectations are the cause of so many unnecessary issues in volunteer teams. 

Someone thinks you are going to do something, but you didn’t know that was a part of your roles and now everyone is frustrated. 

To avoid this easily, write out simple job descriptions of volunteer roles. They don’t have to be fancy, just clear. 

Go over those expectations as part of your volunteer onboarding process.

You can always adjust the roles as you go as things change but keep it in writing. 

This makes it not personal and everyone knows what has been talked about. 

When it comes to social media, volunteers need extremely clear roles otherwise they will get frozen and not get things done. 

You can always ask people if they feel their role is clear or if you can help clarify it for them. 

#3 Create Recurring Meetings For Every Team To Stay Connected

I am a fan of recurring meetings. You plan them once, set them up in your calendar and add everyone to the meeting, and you never have to plan it again! 

It’s hard to find a time when all volunteers can meet at the same time. So set a time that works best and go with it. 

You can do these connect meetings as huddles before service or meet up for training. 

This is the time that you can remind them of the vision of what the team does and also discuss what is going well and what needs to be improved. 

People need to be part of the process to have a greater buy-in. These meetings help them to feel part of the process.

For social media, you can also map out your social calendar, brainstorm new ideas and set goals of where you want to go. 

#4 Remind Your Volunteers of The Why  

Always bring your volunteers back to the reason why you do what you do. 

People serve for something greater than themselves. 

Tie what your volunteer team does into the greater mission of Jesus. 

Here are a few reasons why social media connects to the greater mission of Jesus: 

  • You are communicating about Jesus to the entire online world. 
  • Your content has the potential to impact so many people. 
  • What you post helps to shape the culture of the church throughout the week. 
  • Your social media is the first impression for a lot of people 

You can also describe why you do each procedure or policy. 

This way people will connect with it and it will create enthusiasm. Use stories and examples to help them remember.

#5 Make them Feel Needed and Known

The way you communicate to your volunteers in real time and during the time they are volunteering has a huge impact. 

Some ways you can make your volunteers feel needed and know is: Smiling when you talk to them, thanking your volunteers, encouraging them, asking if they need help, serving them as the leader, and getting to know them personally. 

Taking the time and energy to build relationships is the key when it comes to leading volunteers. 

In John Maxwell’s book, 5 Levels of Leadership, he talks about how Level 2 of leadership is Permission or Relationships. 

This is where people actually start following you because they want to, not just because you have a position. 

Take the time to get to know your volunteers. You’d be surprised how far a 5 minute conversation asking about how they are doing will go.

#6 Don’t Let People Sit on Their Talents

A common blocker for a great volunteer team is not wanting to give full responsibility to people or greater responsibility because you aren’t sure if they will keep quality high. 

You will always get stuck if you have this mindset. 

For the people who need to practice, you will have to let them make mistakes and that is part of the process. 

If you allow someone to try something out, you never know how great they could become!

We all weren’t good at stuff when we first started, but someone let us take a stab at it. 

If you want to have high capacity, high quality volunteers they will want to have full ownership and be able to use their experience without being held back by micro-management. High functioning people need freedom to do things their way. 

This is really common for social media because you want to make sure your church is communicated correctly to the world. So we can really stifle a lot of talent and potential talent. 

This is understandable. For 3 fail-proof ways to get people started, head to this post! 

Find out what people love to do, let them try out different roles and find their place. 

#7 Remove Your Scarcity Mindset 

We need to believe there are plenty of people to serve, not no one willing to serve. 

This is the biggest blocker to growing a successful volunteer team. 

If you think there is no one, there will be no one. 

If you believe in people, people will start to respond. 

#8 Don’t Project on People That They are Burnt Out

If a volunteer team leader serves at a high capacity, they may begin to project on people who are totally fine, to “not get overwhelmed” or to not get “burnt out”. 

I am just going to say it, I hate the words “burnt out.” 

We need to teach people to be responsible enough to say no when necessary and be done with it.

When people get “burnt out” it’s a sign to me that something else isn’t healthy in their life with God or in their relationship to the church.  

It is so healthy for many people to serve at a high capacity to keep themselves out of trouble and spending their time doing something healthy, especially when they are young.

If we teach people to use their words to say “no” politely like an adult when needed, then we won’t have to deal with the “burnt out” back lash down the line. 

This can create a horrible toxic culture where people who aren’t even “burnt out” feel “burnt out”. 

I’ll get off my soap box on that one… 

Conclusion 

Volunteering at church can play a part in changing the course of someone's life.

Let's give them that opportunity and set them up for success.

Remember: 

#1 Want Serving for People, not from People

#2 Clearly Define Roles To Minimize Unmet Expectations

#3 Create Recurring Meetings For Every Team To Stay Connected

#4 Remind Your Volunteers of The Why

#5 Make them Feel Needed and Known

#6 Don’t Let People Sit on Their Talents

#7 Remove Your Scarcity Mindset 

#8 Don’t Project on People That They are Burnt Out

If you want to chat about this topic, head on over to my Instagram and DM me! 

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