I have always been fascinated with how churches function. We all know there is a Pastor, Youth Pastor, Children’s Pastor, but we seldom think about what goes into the ministries of the church. How do things get started? Who plans these events/activities/lessons? Or as a leader, how do you get more help? I have served in several churches (from 30 people to 400), I have yet to find a church where this is NOT an issue. In order to get people to sign up to help; we must first understand why they are not signing up in the first place. This seems like a no brainer, but how often do we really stop to think about why people do things the way they do? Sure we know Mrs. Jones loves to teach one of our Children’s classes, but do we ever stop to think about WHY she doesn’t have any interest in Vacation Bible School? Let’s be honest, probably not. It’s ok, now you know you need to, so let’s figure out how to get you on track.
Change your mind set. Getting people to volunteer is the focus. Right? WRONG!!!! Our focus is not to get people to volunteer to help with Vacation Bible School, or your Christmas Outreach. The focus is to mobilize people in your church to partner with you in whatever the event/activity/outreach thing you are doing. We must change our attitude from “I need people to volunteer to fill in these open slots where I need adults” to “how can I help get people on board with what we are trying to do?” If you can get them on board, they will volunteer like crazy to help make sure it is the best Vacation Bible School your church has ever put on.
Make it easy on them. It is amazing how we treat volunteers. Once we have them signed up to help, we give them the stories, or the crafts, or the task they are doing, and leave them to themselves. Part of mobilizing people, is getting them on board, and Kissing it (Keep It Simple Stupid). Ya, I just said that. But its soo true! When we have their tasks laid out for them, so that they don’t have to do much, they appreciate it. I can’t tell you how many people I have encountered who have stopped volunteering because it was too hard. Make it easy on them.
Sign-up strategy. Every church or organization that is looking for volunteers has a sign-up sheet. In church world, we just “assume” that people will sign-up so we don’t put much time or thought into this. Remember, our goal is to MOBILIZE people. If we have a sign-up sheet in the foyer, or we have them come and see “Pastor Rod,” are we truly mobilizing them to sign-up? There is too much time between the announcements and the end of the service for people to remember to sign-up to bring cookies for the nursery. The little table set up in the education wing is NOT working! You and your team MUST come up with a simple and immediate way to mobilize people to sign-up.
Appreciate them. Too often volunteers don’t feel appreciated. Most volunteers I have encountered are parents of children! Which is great, but that adds a whole new thing to think about. When you have planning meetings (yes, you have though right??), have something for their children to do. You might make the meeting around dinner time and provide pepperoni pizza for them and their kids. Provide child-care (even if you have to ask a couple of the teens to come and “play” with the kids) this will go a long ways in helping mobilize parents to volunteer. As well as other volunteers.