In our first article of the Why Church Volunteers Quit series, we introduced the Volunteer Discipleship Framework and explored church volunteer recruitment. In this article, we are going to focus on the next step of the volunteer discipleship: Church Volunteer Training.
In terms of training your church volunteers, it can be simplified down to 3 elements...
There is no single approach to training church volunteers. After all, every ministry is different and so is every role within that ministry. How you would train a door greeter is very different from how you would train a nursery worker. That being said, it’s great to have a standardized way of onboarding ALL your volunteers.
The goal for onboarding church volunteers should be to:
Remember, onboarding sets the tone of your ministry. Make sure it’s organized and laid out in a way that’s approachable and relatable. In the same way you would receive a syllabus on your first day of school, it's good to give your volunteers a print out that serves as a reference piece for them to go back to throughout their time serving within the ministry.
Pro Tip:You can create a public calendar event in ChurchTrac for a volunteer onboarding. Public calendar events give your people the ability to signup and fill out a form for that specific event.
After the initial onboarding, it's time to get our volunteers acclimated to the job/task that they will be perfoming. When it came to teaching and discipling his disciples, Jesus taught by example. Discipling our volunteers is no different.
The first time a volunteer serves should be a shadowing opportunity. Have them watch, have them learn, and when appropriate...have them perform the task at hand. This on-the-job training will give them the opportunity to see firsthand how to serve in their role with excellence. It also opens up conversation opportunities to develop a deeper bond with other volunteers and leaders.
It’s not uncommon to see ministries skip this step. They either blame it on a shortage of volunteers or say that the job is too small to justify it.
No job is too small and a volunteer shortage should never be an excuse to skip training a volunteer. Skipping the shadowing process gives an impression that their job isn’t important. From door greeter to worship leader, we both know that every part of the church body serves an important purpose.
After our volunteers have been onboarded and learned on the job, the final part of their training is that we continually give back and serve them. We need to model the teachings of Jesus when he said:
Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
When was the last time you invited one of your volunteers our to dinner?
Do you have regular meetups with your team outside of Sunday?
To our volunteers, it can quickly feel like a job if we never give back to our team and fail to spend time with them outside of Sundays. If the only time we communicate with our volunteers is while they’re serving, we’re just a boss. In fact, we’re worse than a boss... because we’re not even paying!
Discipleship requires intentionality. This means setting aside time to invest in your people. That investment means that you are willing to help carry their yolk just as Jesus did. It means we do things like...
We’re called to pastor our volunteers and serve them, not be a boss. From there, we can begin to give them opportunities to shine as we move to the last step of volunteer discipleship: Scheduling.
Volunteer Onboarding is usually a one-day event in which you give your volunteers the information they need and walk them through a day in the life of what their serving opportunity holds.
Encouraging our volunteers starts with simply being there for them and being willing to serve them. It's always good to reward volunteers for their service whenever possible. A simple gesture can go a long way.
The length of shadowing is dependent on the complexity and the expectations of the volunteer opportunity. For example, a door greeter or usher may only need to shadow for one Sunday. Likewise, an AV person may need to shadow for a month until they feel comfortable performing their task on their own.
Just invite them and say there will be free food. That usually works 😂.