Far too often when there’s a ministry gap in our churches, we focus on leadership placement over leadership development. We settle for warm bodies instead of weekly volunteers. After all, Sunday is coming and we need someone to fill the gaps. But training volunteers the right way can lead to excellent future leaders.
Here are ten tips for the process of training volunteers…
1. Orientation is the best place to cast vision and share policies and procedures with potential volunteers.
The most important part of this element of your orientation is explaining the “why” behind each policy. The “why” inspires people, not the policy. A policy alone can be disregarded but vision about why we do what we do creates enthusiastic compliance. The use of specific stories is the best way to share the vision.
2. Relationships are a key to training.
The more your volunteers feel needed and known, the more buy-in you will see. With buy-in, you will see more ownership and growth in volunteers, and they’ll pour into others who serve alongside them.
3. Good volunteer training and onboarding starts with a clear job description.
Make sure you’ve clearly defined the roles you need and the characteristics of the person who’d best fit that position.
4. Give volunteers the freedom and flexibility to try multiple roles.
Open the doors up to even multiple ministries to find the best fit for them. Remember, serving isn’t something we want FROM attenders. It is something we want FOR them.
5. Never stop training your volunteers.
Via huddles, one-on-one conversations, formal trainings, or written communication, continue to cast vision and talk about the things that are vital to your ministry.
6. The best volunteer training is personalized and practice-based.
Personalized so that it’s tailored to that person’s experience and skill set and practice-based so it’s driven by real-time, on-the-job feedback. As a leader, your goal should be to help every volunteer feel needed and known. Volunteers love being part of close-knit teams where they can utilize their gifts to make a difference.
7. Vision-casting is key.
Tie what volunteers are doing to the bigger picture of impact. Technical things can be taught, but vision is bought into.
8. Say no to micro-management.
Give key leaders freedom to do things their own way—not the way you would do it because they occasionally know things you don’t know.
9. Ask volunteers for their feedback regarding your training program.
They can give you ways to improve bases on their perspective.
10. Regularly reevaluate the roles and volunteers on each area of ministry.
Things and people change over time or what seemed to be a good fit for a person is not. Revisit these areas and the people involved to see what can be improved upon or changed.
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