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December 31, 2015Leadership

Building a Volunteer Culture in Your Church

It can be difficult, at times, to recruit volunteers at church. How might we create a volunteer culture in our churches?
Building a Volunteer Culture in Your Church

“Pull a Henry.” Their heads tilted; some brows furrowed. They thought I was crazy. It was working. When you are given the 8 p.m. Monday night slot for teaching seminary students, you’d better say something that awakens them from their post Sunday church hangover. I repeated myself, “If you want to build a volunteer culture in your church, you’ll have to pull a Henry. A Henry Ford. “

Henry Ford was the inventor of the first automobile assembly line. He wanted to produce more cars and ensure great quality, but in order to do that, he knew he needed a system. Henry hoped and dreamed that his system would change the automobile industry and culture and it did just that.

So what on earth does pulling a Henry have to do with church and building a volunteer culture? Cars and people are the same? Nope, I’m not saying that. How they relate is that the ability to build a system that produces more and has better quality will ultimately change a culture.

How then do pastors and leaders build a system to create a volunteer culture in their church?

To this day, when consulting with churches, I haven’t met a pastor or leader that doesn’t want to produce more volunteers and have high quality when it comes to volunteering. But rarely do I find leaders that are actually doing it. Most are consumed by the other areas of the church or preparing for the next sermon because, as you know, Sunday is always coming. And yet, if I asked those leaders if they wanted to reach more people for Jesus Christ and grow their ministries, it wouldn’t take them but a second to say yes!

The reality is that in order to do that, it will take volunteers. Do you dream of having your children’s ministry reach more kids for Jesus Christ? It will take volunteers. Want to start a ministry to serve your community? It will take volunteers. Bottom line, if you want your church to grow in any way, it will take volunteers.

Take a look at Romans chapter 12; it’s very clear. The church is described as a body with many parts doing different things, each one important. It’s the Biblical way to do church. Why then do we struggle so badly with volunteers? After all, even statistics show that people want to volunteer. People are looking for friends, they want to make a difference and honestly, some want to bolster a resume. Whatever the reason, people do want to volunteer, so why does the church often wrestle with retaining volunteers and growing their volunteer base?

Because they aren’t pulling a Henry. There is no system in place for recruiting volunteers, building teams of volunteers, training volunteers, empowering volunteers or even appreciating volunteers. And yet at the end of the day it is exactly what needs to be done to grow a healthy church.

How then do pastors and leaders build a system to create a volunteer culture in their church? Let me give you a couple steps to help pull a Henry:

Step 1: Affirm the volunteers you have. Say thank you. Write a note. Send a text. Throw a party. Acknowledge what they do and show your appreciation for their many hours of serving. And plan to do it again and again.

Step 2: Train your volunteers. Every volunteer, whether their role is stacking chairs or leading a junior high group, should be trained. Some roles may only take a five minute training while others may take a day. Regardless of the time involved, EVERYONE should be trained. When a volunteer is set up to succeed at their role, they stick. So train them and plan to do it again and again.

Step 3: Ask your raving fan volunteers to help you find more volunteers. Volunteers who love what they do naturally ooze passion for their area. If you want to attract more volunteers, that’s exactly who you need inviting others to join. Ask your current volunteers to help recruit and plan to do it again and again.

Create a system. Pull a Henry and start building a volunteer culture in your church and watch your church grow.

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