Tag Archive - volunteers

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Top Posts of 2019 #4: “How to Help Guests Self-Identify at your Church”

Guest services is a big topic of conversation in churches. How do churches provide a great guest experience without being creepy, overbearing, or treating people like customers? After all the Church is the Body of Christ not a business.

Churches are notorious for making guests feel awkward and out of place. I attended a church once that asked every guest to wear a rose sticker on their shirt and then remain seated during a time in the worship service when everyone else would stand up walk around and “greet” the new guests. Super awkward, but honestly mild. I could tell some really embarrassing stories how churches make guests feel uncomfortable.

The guest experience is an essential part of your church reaching new people. But building a great guest experience isn’t just about church growth and numbers, it’s ultimately about helping people feel like they belong at your church, so they can then begin to believe in the life-changing news about Jesus.

There are a few simple things your church can do to help guests self-identify.

Guest Parking:

Priority parking for guests and a great experience in the parking lot with a parking team and good clear signage is a great way to help guests self-identify.

New Kids/Family Check-in:

Having a new family check-in area for first time kids in the kids ministry is a great way to help new families self-identify.

New Ministry Engagement:

Simply pay attention to new ministry engagement each week. The first time someone gives, the first time someone jumps into a group, the first time they volunteer, or any other way they self-identify, check to see if it is their first point of engagement.

Mention Guests in your Weekend Services:

Make sure you address guests directly in your weekend worship services. Thank them from the stage for being your guests that weekend and tell them what step you want them to take. Some churches have a communication card they want guests to fill out and turn in, some direct guests to a particular place to receive a special welcome and meet the staff, and I’ve seen others invite guests to self-identify and on their behalf the church donates a financial gift to a ministry…i.e. “By simply being here this weekend you’re providing clean drinking water to kids in…let us know you’re here and make a difference in the life of a kid.”

So, here’s how the math behind it all works…

  • We know that the average church in America has around a 15% attrition rate annually. People move out of town, people get mad at something the pastor says and leave, and people die. There are all kinds of reasons attrition takes place.
  • We also know that the average church that has a great guest experience and weekend worship experience (including a strong kids ministry), retains about 1 in 5 guests, or 20%.
  • So, if a church that averages 500 people on the weekend is going to grow by 5%, or 25 people on average then they need to help 500 1st time guests self-identify. That’s a 1:1 ratio of guest to attender for the year.
  • Still not following? Say that church of 500 people is on average going to lose 15% of people to attrition, or in this case 75 people. If that church has a 1:1 first time guest to average attendance ratio for the year, that would mean that church would have 500 first time identifiable guests. If they retain 20% of their guests, or 1 in 5 first time guests (which would be 100 people), that church would grow by 5%, or 25 people in average weekly attendance.

Obviously, there are other ways to get things growing at your church. You could “close the back door” and cut the attrition rate, or you could strengthen the retention rate of new guests.

But none of that matters is you can’t help guest self-identify and get them in your assimilation pipeline.


Posted in Leadership, Volunteers

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Top Posts of 2018 #2 “5 Core Issues that will Fuel Growth in your Church”

Every church leader I meet with wants to know what they need to do to grow their churches. The majority of these leaders are well intentioned and really have a sincere desire to see people who don’t know Jesus, meet Him. I wrote this particular article at the beginning of 2018 hoping to give church leaders some insights, based on the 100’s of churches we work with at the Unstuck Group, that could help them fuel growth in their churches this year. I hope it was helpful.

Stuckness is no respecter of the “brand” or “flavor” of a church. All kinds of churches across America are stuck. Large churches, small churches, old churches, new churches, Baptist churches, Methodist churches, Nazarene churches, Presbyterian church and even non-denominational churches are stuck.

At the Unstuck Group we’ve literally worked with hundreds of churches and one of the many things we’ve learned along the way is that there are 5 Core Issues that keep churches stuck.

The good news is that in 2018 your church doesn’t have to stay stuck.

This year your church can take a different approach. I’m not talking about trying harder, I’m talking about trying different. I’m also not talking about making some risk free small tweaks. If you want different results you’ve got to adopt a different strategy and employ different tactics.

What are you and your team willing to differently this year when it comes to your approach to these 5 Core Issues?

Discipleship Pathway

I’ve seen a lot of churches that offer a myriad of classes, small groups, and a grocery list of ministries that clutter people’s lives and compete for time, promotion, money and participation. But it’s rare to find a church that has a clear strategic pathway for people who are new to following Jesus to move towards knowing and following him. Is your church providing a menu of ministry offerings or clear next steps for people who connect with your church to become more fully devoted followers of Jesus?

Leadership Development

While many church leaders search for an off the shelf tool or some new content that is promised to produce leaders in their church they forget that the Church itself is the greatest leadership development engine that’s ever been designed. How deep is the leadership bench at your church? Most churches are struggling to identify their up and coming young leaders. Is your church attracting, identifying, and intentionally developing young leaders? Most are hopeful that it will somehow happen, but hope isn’t a strategy. Check out these 10 Articles that will Help your Church Develop Young Leaders. Developing people is different than offering a class. What are you going to do to invest in people differently this year?

Mission / Vision

Clarity is king. Without clarity churches are left to fumble around in a fog and hope for the best. However, the clearer become the better decisions can be made and the faster alignment can be accomplished. When everyone on the team has clarity, and knows where you’re going and who is supposed to do what next things can really get moving. Unfortunately, the majority of churches aren’t very clear about their mission (why they exist) or vision (where they are going), and so they stay stuck. Here’s a post that will help you and your team gain more clarity on your mission and vision.

Communications

It’s not uncommon in churches to find ministries competing for “air time” in the weekend worship services. Many church staff members mistakenly think that if “their” ministry offering isn’t announced on the weekend then it’s not important and it can’t be successful. As a result, churches end up relying on the weekend bulletin and announcements in their services as the extent of their communication strategy. They communicate everything to everyone, hoping to get someone involved. If it’s not announced from the stage then they spam people to death with constant emails that are just ignored or deleted. Interested in learning more about church communications? Check out these 10 Findings from New Research on Church Communications.

Volunteers

A simple but deep truth that seems to have been forgotten is that volunteering is discipleship. Volunteering is not just about roles that need to be filled anymore but people that need to be developed. The role of the Church Staff Member isn’t to do the ministry but to equip the church to do the ministry. While most church staff would generally agree to that statement, few are actually doing it. Want to learn more about developing an effective Volunteer Strategy at your Church? Check out these 10 Articles that will Help your Church Build a Stronger Volunteer Culture.

If you behave differently towards these 5 Core Issues this year, you’ll get different results. And if you need help getting unstuck then connect with us at the Unstuck Group, we can help this next year be the best year of ministry you’ve ever experienced


Posted in Leadership

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5 Symptoms Your Church Needs More Volunteers

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.

Through our research at the Unstuck Group we’ve discovered that the average church in America has 43% of their adults and students volunteering somewhere in the church. Follow this link if you’re interested in learning if your church is healthy in this area and others.

While a lot of churches need more volunteers, most don’t know why they need more volunteers, or why it’s difficult for them to enlist and keep new volunteers.

1. Your “span of care” is too broad

If you can’t care for your volunteers, you’re not going to keep your volunteers very long. Because they’ll begin to sense that you want something from them not for them. In business-world Fortune 500 CEOs usually only have seven direct reports. That’s probably a great rule of thumb for ministry-world as well. A simple way to figure this out in your context is to add up the number of volunteers and then divide by the number of staff and volunteer leaders. If the result is more than seven, then you have a span of care issue and you need more leaders.

2. You have too many staff

One symptom I see over and over again in churches that struggle with building an effective volunteer ministry is that they are over-staffed. Instead of paying staff to lead, develop, and disciple people in the church they pay the staff to do the ministry. The research we’ve done at the Unstuck Group working with literally 100’s of churches has shown us that if you’re staffed at a ratio higher than 1:100 (1 FTE Staff Member for every 100 people attending your church) you’re overstaffed.

3. Every decision comes back to your desk

If every decision is coming back to your desk you haven’t figured out how to empower people. Empowering people first starts with clarifying the mission, vision, values and strategy. It means clearly articulating the role for volunteers, helping them understand how to make decisions that help the church move towards its vision, and then moving people from doing tasks to leading their teams.

4 Using people instead of developing people

Many churches I’ve observed view volunteering as roles to be filled instead of people to be developed. Here’s what I know, when you’re primarily focused on the number of volunteers you have and the ratios you have in classrooms you’ll never have enough volunteers. On the other hand when you primarily focus volunteers as people to be developed and discipleship, you’re far less likely to have a volunteer shortage. Because after all volunteering is discipleship.

5. It’s Difficult to get Involved

The number one complaint I hear from people who want to volunteer in churches who don’t is that they’ve tried to volunteer, they’ve signed up, they want to but they don’t know how to get involved, it was hard to get involved (they had to take multiple classes or be a member of the church prior to volunteering), or no one ever called them back. Does your church make it easy or difficult for people to get involved and start volunteering?


Posted in Leadership, Volunteers

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Five Reasons People don’t Volunteer at Your Church

Do you need more preschool workers to serve children? Do you need more greeters to greet? Do you need more ushers to…ush?

If so, you’re in familiar territory.

I’ve never met a church that said, “You know…when it comes to volunteers, we’re good. We’ve got plenty. In fact, there’s a waiting list for the nursery.” Churches everywhere need to mobilize more volunteers to get ministry done. But before you start signing people up and filling slots, it might be helpful to take a look at why people are NOT volunteering.

Here are FIVE REASONS people might not be volunteering at your church.

 1. You’re not asking correctly.  It takes more than blurbs in the bulletin and pleas from the pulpit to move people into volunteer positions in your church.  If you want people to serve, you’ve got to learn how to ask correctly.

2. It’s hard to sign up.  Signing up has to be simple and immediate.  Hidden tables in the lobby don’t work.  Remembering to email so-and-so isn’t a good strategy.

3. It’s not clear.  If you want people to do a job, they need to clearly understand the expectations and requirements.  Pull back the veil and show people what’s it like before you ask them to get involved.

4. You’re not saying thanks.  People don’t want to toil away in a thankless role.  Just because someone’s reward is in heaven doesn’t mean they don’t need to hear “thank you” on earth.

5. It’s too hard.  The super-committed will do whatever it takes, but if you want to mobilize a bunch of people, you need to make it easier.  Take care of their kids, provide food, and make sure they have everything they need to succeed.  A little planning on the front end goes a long way.

To learn how to build a larger volunteer base, I’d like to invite you and your team to sign up for the FREE ONLINE ‘Get More Volunteers’ Event.


Posted in Volunteers

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Overcomming the Fear of Moving to Multiple Worship Services

Churches are often stuck because of their systems and structures. Many churches cannot grow because they have maximized their building’s capacity and they lack the financial resources to expand. Eight common fears cause them to fixate on building a bigger building instead of adding multiple services.

1. The fear of losing the unity of the church

It is true that everyone will not be able to worship together at the same time with multiple services but this has more to do with the comfort of friendship and the familiar than church unity. Unity is driven by consistent teaching, clear vision, a strong culture and the Holy Spirit.

2. The fear of not having enough volunteers

It is proven that moving to multiple services actually makes it easier to find volunteers. With additional services, people now have additional choices. Volunteers now have the option of attending a service and serving in another. Having only one service forces people to choose between attending the worship service or volunteering in a ministry.

3. The fear of overworking the pastor

In many churches, the pastor is responsible for preparing messages for Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday Bible studies. This workload leaves pastors with little time to lead. Eliminating some of these teaching responsibilities gives pastors additional time to focus on leadership and the weekend services. It is much easier for a pastor to teach the same message multiple times on the weekend than to prepare three different talks each week.

4. The fear of deciding what to do with Sunday morning programs (i.e. Sunday School)

Understanding that your primary objective is to connect people in an environment that is centered on God’s Word will give you many different options. If you have the parking capacity, it is possible to run discipleship programs concurrently with the worship services. If this is not the case, you can have it before, after, or in between services. Another option would be to offer Sunday School for children and students and have Bible studies another time for adults during the week. Many churches have transitioned to weekly small groups.

5. The fear of determining whether or not the style of worship music should be blended, the same or different in each service

Some well-known and successful churches have chosen to have multiple worship venues using niche styles such as rock and roll, contemporary worship, country, and unplugged. What keeps these services unified is ensuring that the same message is preached in all of them. Others approach music as a unifying factor and choose to keep all of the services the same style. Generally speaking, blended worship styles are confusing and don’t make anyone happy. Whatever route you choose to take, allow the decision to be driven by vision and the culture you want to create.

6. The fear of past failures

If you’ve unsuccessfully tried multiple worship services before then answer two important questions. First, “Why didn’t it work the first time?” And second, “What can we do differently this time?”

7. The fear of losing people

You will probably lose people if you make this move but you will also lose people if you don’t. Churches always lose people, fortunately you can help decide who leaves and stays by the leadership decisions that are made. The real issue is, “Do you want to build a culture focused on insiders or outsiders?” Having one service limits who can be part of your church (capacity issue) and it also limits the impact that your church can have in the community.

8. The fear of not knowing when to start a multiple service

It is better to add two completely new times instead of simply adding another option to what you already offer. This strategy forces everyone to choose a new service time and creates an “all-in” mentality. Also keep in mind that optimum times for worship services in America seem to be between 4:30pm – 6:00pm on Saturday evenings and 9:00am – noon on Sundays. You will also want to pick a strategic time of the year when your church experiences natural momentum to launch the service. Many churches experience momentum at the start of the school year in the fall or in January when everyone is back after Christmas-break.

This article originally appeared as a guest post I wrote last year for TonyMorganLive


Posted in Leadership
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