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What Volunteers Want From Your Church

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If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written on developing effective volunteer teams at your church then you’ve probably heard me say that I’ve never met a church leader who said that they had enough volunteers. In fact, the opposite is typically true. Having too few volunteers is one of the most frequent complaints and pressure points I hear from church leaders. Most of the time it’s not due to a lack of effort or trying. It’s usually due to taking the wrong approach with volunteerism in the church.

That being said, below are 5 things that the people who volunteer at your church expect from you. They may say it or not, but they want it. And if they don’t get it, it will probably keep them from volunteering at your church.

1. Easy Process

Joining a volunteer team should be easy, but unfortunately at most churches you have to jump through a bunch of hoops to serve. Have you said yes to following Jesus? Have you been baptized? Are you a member of the church? Have you filled out a volunteer application? Have you been through a volunteer interview? Have you been through training first? Sounds exhausting…not very easy. While you probably need to know Jesus to lead, you don’t need to know Jesus to serve. Develop an easy process for people at your church to serve and I bet you’ll end up enlisting more volunteers and developing more leaders.

2. Clear Communication

This one doesn’t have to be that difficult but you wouldn’t know that by the way many churches behave. Following up with people in a timely manner isn’t a strategy, it’s simply polite and the right way to treat people. Let volunteers know where they need to go the first time they serve, what time they need to be there, who will meet them, what to expect their first time and then thank them afterwards and ask the about how their experience was.

3. Meaningful Ministry

Joining a volunteer team gives people the opportunity to do something meaningful with their lives! Most people don’t volunteer because they dream of managing administrative details but because they want to make a difference in people’s lives. Do the administration for them so they have a great experience ministering to people!

4. Be a Part of the Team

Everyone wants to be a part of a team where they feel valued and have friends. Volunteering is quickly becoming one of the first steps that people take at a church. It’s so much less intimidating to join a volunteer team than it is to show up to a stranger’s house and talk about your feelings and the bible. Volunteer teams are a great way to help new people get connected to your church and build new meaningful relationships!

5. Resources and Training

No one likes to be put in a position where they feel like they don’t know what they’re doing. One of the easiest ways you can build trust with volunteers is to give them basic training and resources to help them be fantastic at what they’re doing.


Posted in Leadership, Volunteers

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Why your Church is Thinking about Volunteers the Wrong Way

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I’ve never met a church leader who said that they had enough volunteers. In fact, the opposite is typically true. Having too few volunteers is one of the most frequent complaints and pressure points I hear from church leaders. Most of the time it’s not due to a lack of effort or trying. It’s usually due to thinking the wrong way about volunteerism in the church.

  • Most churches think they need more volunteers to accomplish the ministry…they don’t.
  • Most churches think they need more talented and experienced volunteers to accomplish the ministry…they don’t.
  • Most churches think they need volunteers to do the tasks of the ministry so the church staff can lead the ministry…they don’t.

“Volunteering is the Ministry”

Jesus said, “I did not come to be served but to serve.” Serving others is both the pathway to and pinnacle of spiritual maturity. Volunteering is not a means to an end (getting the ministry accomplished) …it is the end, because volunteers are not roles to be filled but people to be developed. When ministry staff members say things like, “We need more volunteers to make ministry happen” they begin using people instead of ministering to people. Volunteering is discipleship!

“I See Something in You”

Twenty-five years ago, the pastor of a small conservative Baptist church said he saw something in me. Something that I didn’t see in myself. And he invited me to start teaching a Jr. High Sunday School class. I’m not sure what he was thinking. I was scared to death. But I said yes. I wasn’t really all that much older than those Jr. High Students, and I really didn’t know all that more about the Bible or knowing Jesus than them. But I studied those lessons and did the best that I could. That’s where leading church ministry really began for me. All because someone saw something in me. Church leaders need to start seeing “something” in the people around them. Start seeing them for what they could be in and through Jesus, not just as they are. Start speaking those life-giving words into them and inviting them to take a risk and use their gifting for the sake of the Gospel and the Kingdom. And by the way. When I began volunteering, I began growing in my friendship with Jesus in way that I had never done before.

“Join a Team”

The way you talk about something reflects the value you ascribe to it. Words create worlds and so the way you talk about volunteers and volunteerism at your church will either build or erode the volunteer culture you’re trying to create. Unless you tell them differently people are going to think they’re just helpers…just a volunteer. You’ve got to help them see that they’re not just a volunteer but when they volunteer they are actually no longer coming to church they are being the Church. Stop asking people to volunteer and perform a function, get tasks done, or fill a role. Invite them to join a team and make a difference with their life. Help them see volunteering in the church as what it really is…joining a movement to help people meet, know, and follow Jesus.

A big shout out to Brian LaMew who serves as the Pastor of Campus Development and leads the Campus Pastor Team at Sun Valley Community Church who shared these principles in a Sun Valley all staff gathering recently. Keep up the great work Brian!


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Volunteers

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10 Articles that will Help Your Church Make Vision Real

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Thank you for starting the year off great and making January another great month here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real! It’s fun to stay connected with you through social media and hearing that these articles have been helpful. So, thank you for connecting with me through the content on this blog! You made these the top posts from this last month. If you missed out on any of them, here they are all in one place for your convenience!

Overcoming Leadership Lids of Competency and Character 

If you lead long enough, eventually you’re going to hit a leadership lid. It happens when you reach your capacity in a particular area. But what you do next has the potential to make or break your leadership future. Ignore it, deny it, make excuses about it, or refuse to acknowledge and deal with it and you’ll undermine your impact. Face reality and you’ll create a window of opportunity to grow and break through your leadership lid.

8 Keys to Changing your Church in 2017

Most church leaders I’ve talked with want things to change for the better, they want this year to be better than last year, but they don’t want to do anything different. People always want to change their circumstances, but they never want to change their lives. But everything gets better when we get better. Families get better when fathers and mothers get better. Students get better when educators get better. Organizations get better when leaders get better. And churches get better when church leaders get better. But change is painful. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. It’s always easier and more comfortable to stay where you are than to change and move forward.

Why I Love Working at Sun Valley Community Church

When I was a freshman in High School I prayed a prayer, begging God to let me to be a part of helping thousands of people meet Him. It’s crazy to think that all of these years later God is answering those prayers. Every year at Sun Valley Community Church we share wins from the previous year of ministry and I thought I’d share them with you. I hope this is encouraging to you, inspires you, and prompts you to pray for the ministry of Sun Valley.

8 Reasons Why People don’t Volunteer at your Church

I’ve never worked with a church that has said they don’t need more volunteers. But I’ve worked with a bunch of churches that have trouble getting people to volunteer and stay engaged volunteering.

The Difference between Preparation and Planning

Do great organizations prepare for the future or do they plan for it? The answer is, “yes.” To be clear preparation and planning are not the same thing, and great organizations become great by doing both.

How to get People to Follow You

Leadership can be a funny thing. It’s more than just influence. And while anyone can learn leadership principles the Bible teaches us that leadership is a spiritual gift. The easiest way to tell if you have the spiritual gift of leadership is to look and see if people are following you. But how do you get people to follow you?

10 Signs your Church is Headed for Decline

What if there were early warning signs (flashing lights on the dashboard) that helped indicate that trouble was ahead? In my experience Coaching Church Leaders and Consulting with Churches across the country I’ve seen the following 10 indicators of an impending decline over and over again.

When to Add Another Worship Service at your Church

Many churches are stuck in attendance simply because they haven’t maximized their current facilities and campus. Thinking about adding another worship service at your church? Here are five strategic concepts to consider before you do.

6 Keys to Selecting your Next Multisite Location

This past weekend Sun Valley Community Church (the church I have the honor of serving at) just launched their 5th location with over 2,000 people attending one of the three services! It was a successful initial launch but now the hard work begins. If your church is thinking about embracing a multisite strategy here are a few things you should consider when selecting your next location.

[Webinar Replay} Leading Change: 3 Shifts for Health and Growing Churches in 2017

Monday I had some fun hanging out with my friends Tony Morgan, as well as Carey Nieuwhof, and Gabe Kolstad from The Unstuck Group‘s consultant team, for a webinar about one of my favorite topics: leading change. We specifically dug into three big church changes that more than 600 pastors told us were the most important onesthey wanted to lead in 2017.

Photo Credit: justin fain via Compfight cc


Posted in Creative Arts, Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing, Testimonial, Volunteers

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Top Posts of 2016 #5 “Why People Volunteer at some Churches but not at Others”

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We’re half way through counting down the top 10 Church Leadership Posts here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real and #5 checks in with a post about volunteers, a topic that too many churches struggle with.

Ever notice that a lot of churches feel like a spectator sport? You know, the kind of place where people sit around watching the paid staff do everything. The average church in America engages around 45% of their average adult and student attendance in some kind of volunteer role (check out the Unstuck Group Health Assessment for more info like this). But there are those churches that are above average. The top 10% of churches somehow seem to break all the normal statistics and engage more than 70% of their average adult and student attendance in some kind of volunteer role. Here are a couple of things they do different.

#1 High Challenge

They don’t just make an announcement, they don’t just ask, they don’t simply provide the opportunity to serve, these churches challenge people to serve. What comes natural to us is ourselves and these churches combat self-oriented thinking with a high challenge to put faith into action by serving others. They know that you can not serve God without serving people.

#2 Flexibility

Ever notice that people are busy? Most people don’t have hours and hours per week to volunteer at your church. Churches that engage the most volunteers understand this and they are flexible. They don’t’ require volunteers to be involved in everything, instead they invite them to be involved in what they can be.

#3 Fewer Paid Staff

These churches actually have fewer staff, not more staff. Instead of paying people to do ministry they pay staff to lead volunteers. Churches that get stuck loading up on staff end up dealing with the unintended consequences of having staff doing everything and church attenders watching them instead of joining them.

#4 Say Thank You

It’s so simple to say thank you, but so few churches actually do it. I’m not talking about saying thank you from the stage (although that’s not a bad start), but in a personal face-to-face conversation, a handwritten note, or even walking through the kids ministry area during service and popping your head into each kids ministry classroom and saying thank you in the moment.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Volunteers

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Top Posts of 2016 #9 “Where there’s a Huddle there’s a Team”

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I’m counting down my Top 10 most popular blog posts from 2016 and one of the topics I write about that gets the most traction is building and developing volunteer teams. Here’s one that focuses one small practice that can make a really big deal at your church.

How do you know if the volunteer teams at your church are really working? I don’t mean are they getting stuff done and meeting objectives, I mean are they developing people. After all the point of building volunteer teams at your church isn’t just to use people to accomplish objectives but rather to create opportunities and relationships to develop people.

Team huddles are one of the most overlooked opportunities by many church staff, and yet they are one of the easiest tactics to implement and they bear a disproportionate amount of fruit.

Simply put where there’s a team there’s a huddle. No huddle…no team. So go looking for huddles at your church. If you don’t see any you may be using people instead of developing them.

Team huddles are evidence of…

Leadership

When you see a team huddle that means someone is leading. Someone is getting the team together and calling the plays.

Planning

When you see a team huddle you can rest assured that someone is doing some planning. They’re sharing that plan with the team and helping everyone know how they’re going to accomplish what they’re going to accomplish that day.

Coordination

When you see a team huddle you can know that people are working together in a coordinated fashion. Yes someone has planed the plays and called the plays but it takes everyone blocking the right scheme, picking up their individual assignments, running the right routes, and putting the ball where it needs to go at the right time for the team to win. That’s called coordination.

Development

You know people are being developed when you see a team huddle. Tasks are being delegated and people are being empowerment to make decisions. Responsibility is being shared and young growing leaders are learning to build trust.

Encouragement

You can know that people are being encouraged when you see team huddles. People are celebrating what was accomplished on the last play and individuals on the team are being called out and honored for doing a great job.

If your church isn’t using team huddles try having each volunteer team start and end with a huddle using the tactics above. Try it for 30 days…you may be surprised by the results.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing, Volunteers
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