Need Volunteers? Cast a Compelling Vision

Every church needs more volunteers!  Servants are the lifeblood behind the ministry of the church as the church seeks to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  They serve as greeters, nursery workers, Sunday School teachers, run the sound board, fold worship programs and everything else under the sun.  And, there is never enough volunteers.

iStock_000017582867SmallMuch can be written about effective ways to recruit volunteers and the myriad of ways the church is often ineffective at recruiting volunteers.

One key to recruiting volunteers is casting a compelling vision for why a particular opportunity to serve God is important, will make a difference in the lives of those being served, and help the church live out its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  This might be called sharing the “why behind the what” when it comes to volunteer needs.

In addition to sharing the need connect the service that will be offered to an outcome.  For example,

Children are an important part of the life of First UMC.  They are our present!  Statistics show many persons will have the foundation of faith laid when they are children in Sunday School.  These faith foundations will last a lifetime and serve our children, their future families, and the community.  Would you like to make a difference in the life of a child that will continue to bear fruit for years to come?  Consider signing up for Sunday School teacher training…

Such an announcement would then go on to list details, time requirements, and appropriate contact for more information.

Contrast this to a simple announcement in a worship program that says,

Sunday School teachers are needed for the second grade class.  Please call the church office.

Sharing the why behind the what and casting a compelling vision for the service needs of the church will help to improve the chances of receiving much needed help.

5 Ways to Say Thank You to Volunteers

My mother always taught me the importance of saying thank you. As your church develops its volunteer system one of the components of that system will be properly thanking your volunteers.  Many volunteers in your church will say “I do not do what I do to receive a thank you.” That is great, but everyone likes to be thanked now and again. Here are at least five ways you can thank volunteers in your church.

Thank you concept

  1. Verbally. Simply affirming a person’s service whether they be greeting or working in the church nursery should be done often and by more than just the pastor. A simple “thanks so much for serving today” goes a long way. Remember too it is good to tie your thank you to a “so that” statement. Thank you for serving in the nursery this morning “so that parents can attend worship and experience God.”
  2. From the pulpit or stage. Volunteers can be thanked from the pulpit. It is best to thank groups of volunteers in this way as opposed to singling persons out lest you forget someone or set a precedent and then have to individually thank volunteers all the time in this way. You might say “a huge thank you to the youth who helped bag potatoes for the food bank.”
  3. In a handwritten note. Handwritten notes are a lost art especially in our day of texting and 140 character messages. If a pastor or ministry leader writes a handwritten note saying “I noticed you serving in our hospitality ministry and I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your ministry” it will be huge.
  4. In the newsletter. If you have a written or electronic newsletter consider having a portion of it devoted to thanking volunteers.
  5. In a formal and significant way. Once or twice a year have a formal lunch or dinner to honor and thank your volunteers. Cater it. Yes, stop being cheap and pay for it. Let no one from the church serve that day except for the staff. Some churches have combined this with an awards ceremony of sorts like the Oscar awards. Be creative.

Anybody in the church knows that volunteers are crucial and the lifeblood of the church and for advancing the mission of the church. Finding ways to thank them for all they do should be a top priority for every church, pastor and ministry team leader.

What are some other ways you have seen volunteers thanked?