At a church where I served as the Communications Pastor, we provided members a card with various ways they could serve. The card included every area of the church – youth, children, greeting, information center, everything. Additionally, the serving opportunity card included Communications. What area of ministry had the most interest? To my surprise, it was Communications, by more than 50%!
With all the interest in serving in my ministry, I was forced to assemble, train and mobilize a team of gifted (and some not so gifted) creatives. Talk about unknown territory. Here is what I learned on how to recruit, train and mobilize volunteers in my ministry.
The first thing I learned was not to ask for volunteers if I didn’t have any idea what they were going to be doing. I knew I could use photographers and writers pretty easily to document the life stories that happened every day in our ministries. I knew I wanted to have some great graphic designers, web people, social media people and videographers serving as volunteers as well, I just wasn’t prepared for how to use them.
When it comes to recruiting:
- Know what you need before you ask for volunteers. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be open to ideas people will bring to the table, but you should at least have a general idea of what you’re looking for in a volunteer.
- Have job descriptions written out. This makes you really think through what your needs are.
- Connect with new volunteers within 24 hours after they sign up. This is critical.
- Schedule a face-to-face interview. Yes, I said interview. You need to make sure you have the right volunteer in the right place. This is important for both of you.
- Be thorough in your interviewing process. Your ministry needs professional quality people working with you. That doesn’t mean that volunteers do not have what it takes. I was blown away by the ability level of the people who volunteered. But be diligent, because the last thing you want to have to do is to fire a volunteer.
If you added a new member to your team, would you just sit them at their desk and say, “Okay, get to work.” Of course not. And neither should you do that with volunteers.
When it comes to training:
- Cast Vision. This is probably the most important step in training your volunteers. Connect the work they will be doing for your team to the bigger vision of the church.
- Be specific. If you have standards, have them read them. If there is any other training you have for your paid staff, try to include your volunteer staff when appropriate.
- Start small and offer feedback. Don’t throw a brand new volunteer on a giant project. Start with a small project, then schedule some time to give them face-to-face feedback (if at all possible).
One of the worst things for someone who has volunteered to serve in your ministry is to sign up, go through training, and then never be used. You have to have a system for utilizing volunteers.
When it comes to mobilizing:
- Organize your volunteers into teams. (Teams of photographers, writers, designers, web developers)
- Organize them into ministries (Women’s Ministry photographers, writers, etc.; Children’s Ministry photographers, writers, etc.)
- Communicate with other ministries about comp’ing your volunteers’ attendance at their events. You can’t very well send a photographer/writer to an event and then ask them to pay to attend the event. (At least, you shouldn’t).
- Have Team Meetings. Keeping people connected to the team and connected to the vision is critical.
And lastly, don’t forget to recognize and appreciate the volunteers you have. This is an important and often overlooked step. As Bill Hybels says, “Volunteers are cheap, but they shouldn’t be free.”
Be proactive in building an amazing team of volunteers for your communications ministry, and you can have the team you’ve always wanted.
Do you use volunteers to help with Church Communications? If so, how?