No matter how small or how large your church is, volunteers are the heart and soul of its potential. Our role as multisite leaders is to identify, equip, and release volunteers. But we can’t effectively do these things without valuing them. Communicating the value we place on volunteers is easier than most leaders think, and it doesn’t require as much money as we might expect.
I’ve listed below five inexpensive ways that help communicate genuine value to the volunteers we lead:
Being ready for volunteers is the first thing they will notice. When a volunteer commits their time to serve, it’s important to value their time with our preparedness. My friend, Tammie Hurd is the best at this. She puts a lot of time into preparing carts, charts, resources, instructions, and maps before volunteers ever arrive, and she has some of the most committed and longstanding volunteers in our church. Why? Because her volunteers know that they are needed, and that their time will be productive. When they arrive to serve with Tammie, every item they need to complete the job is there, and they feel valued. Being prepared communicates to the volunteer that you care about, and respect their time.
Sometimes we get so busy serving with our volunteers that we forget to shepherd and care for them through prayer. Knowing how to pray, and what to pray for our volunteers matters more than we think. Yes, the pre-service prayer time or the post-event prayer is valuable, but those times often don’t allow us to pray specifically over a volunteer’s needs. Creating space in the rhythms of our serving together, to ask how we can specifically pray for our volunteers, is invaluable. We need to make time to stop right there, and pray with and for them. Following up on the prayer need later also communicates the value you place on a volunteer’s personal life.
Affirmation is a powerful tool in communicating the value we place on our volunteers. Expressing gratitude doesn’t require expensive gifts or fancy dinners; I’m still surprised how significant a written note can be. While a text message or an email doesn’t adequately express my gratitude, a written card communicates the value I have for them individually, because I took the time to personalize a note. Some volunteers prefer private affirmation over public recognition, but I’m always looking for a way to express my appreciation publicly in our team meetings or on social media. I want our team to know just how much I value each and every one who serves with us.
If we value our volunteers, we have to protect them from burnout and overcommitment. A volunteer who serves at everything is usually running from something, and we have to recognize that unhealthy commitment, and address it head-on. Doing so communicates that we care more about who they’re becoming than what they’re doing. We like to stress to our volunteers that serving starts at home, because if we’re not taking care of our families first, how can we take care of the family of God? Another way we protect our volunteers is making sure they’re attending a worship service that they don’t serve in. This helps make sure they’re receiving at some point during the weekend, and not just giving the entire time. Protecting a volunteer from too many commitments reveals just how much we value them.
If our volunteers are not having fun, no one is. Our volunteers set the tone and create the atmosphere in every environment, and we want that environment to be full of fun. Having a party with your volunteers, to celebrate all they accomplished, goes a long way. Not everyone can afford a party, but don’t let a smaller budget keep you from partying with your volunteer team. Add music to your next meeting, go out for a buy-one-get-one appetizers after serving together, deliver Slurpees to your traffic team one morning, and the list goes on. Have fun with them, because if they’re having fun, everyone is having fun.
Valuing our volunteers reveals just how much we care for them, and who they’re becoming while serving at our church or organization. These five tips have something in common – TIME.
We cannot express how much we value our volunteers’ time without being intentional with our time.
You may not be able to do all these things this week, but you can plan to do one or two them.
I hope this list helps you in expressing the value you place on your volunteers. I’d love to hear if you have any other ideas too. Please comment below.