The church is a unique organization. By most measures (budgets, church giving, “customers” served, or other measures of output), a church’s paid staff is far smaller than you might expect in other types of nonprofit organizations. Instead, churches rely on an army of volunteers to fill many roles and meet needs before, during, and after services, as well as throughout the week. These volunteers receive joy in serving, and they often enjoy increased fellowship with other members.
However, it’s easy for a church’s volunteer staff to start feeling isolated. Nearly all congregations have at least a few volunteer needs that occur during the service, and the larger or more complex the ministry, the more of these there tend to be. All will have a more difficult time “plugging in” than the general congregation, but some (like children’s workers, the safety team, parking lot attendants, and so on) won’t be plugged in at all. Their responsibilities run concurrent to the service and keep them away from all aspects of it. How can you as leaders show care and love to your volunteer staff? Here are a few ideas.
1. Schedule Them on Rotation
One way to reduce isolation and ministry burnout from your volunteer staff is to use a rotation. Schedule your volunteers in an on/off rotation, whether weekly, monthly, or quarterly. When your volunteers are off rotation, they attend the service. This way no individual misses the service every week.
Yes, this means you have to grow your volunteer base, and it means more training and logistics for someone on staff — but it’s a worthwhile way to serve this core constituency in your church. As a bonus, making this change will likely increase your volunteer base naturally, because signing up to teach a children’s class isn’t such a daunting commitment if you aren’t the only volunteer.
2. Give Them a Way to Experience the Message
For many volunteers, missing the sermon is a big contributor toward isolation. This is especially true if your church teaches through a book of scripture or in a series. Thankfully, technology offers many ways to give your volunteers access to the message. The most low-tech is to offer sermon notes or summaries or, if you manuscript your sermons, just offer the manuscript itself. Many churches already have in place a way to receive audio recordings (whether on CD or posted online), and more churches are offering video as well.
Of course, whatever options you offer, they don’t do any good if people aren’t using them. Give your volunteer staff some direction. Encourage them to use these resources to keep up with the weekly sermons they’re missing.
3. Offer Mobile Church Giving Options
If the only way to give at your church is cash or checks, it stands to reason your volunteers might struggle to give consistently. Think about it: if I’m a volunteer teaching a children’s class while the offering plates are being passed in the sanctuary, what are my options? After the service is done and all the children have finally been picked up, it might not be the first thing on my mind to track down a pastor or leader with my check. Same with the security team, the musicians, the nursery workers, and so on.
Giving your members access to modern church giving methods is another way to help your volunteer staff. They can quickly give using their phones whenever they think of it — even while they’re attending to other tasks. They can also schedule recurring gifts so that they can keep serving without distraction.
Use these tips (if you’re not already doing so) to help keep your volunteer staff engaged, so they can keep serving in the ways they love.