When you think about your church, who makes up the foundation? Jesus is the simple answer, and I don’t disagree with that, but what about after Jesus? Is it the pastor, the board, the staff, the prayer warriors? I don’t think it’s any of those people. I think the foundation of every church is the volunteers.
Seth Godin recently wrote a post titled, It’s not the bottom, it’s the foundation.
The post begins with this statement,
“Organizations are built on the work of people who don’t get paid very much, don’t receive sufficient respect and are understandably wary of the promises they’ve been hearing for years.”
I believe we could rewrite that statement for some churches.
“Churches are built on the work of people who don’t get paid at all, don’t receive enough appreciation, and who all too often feel taken advantage of.”
It doesn’t have to be that way. There is a way you can build a firm foundation.
- You can care about your volunteers. I mean really care about them, and not just what they can do for you. That starts with learning their names then moves to learning about their families, then their hurts, and their hopes. That takes time, and if you don’t have it, make sure someone on your team is doing it.
- You can appreciate your volunteers. Telling your volunteers you love and appreciate them from the stage is good, but a handwritten thank you goes a lot farther. Sometimes you may even want to put a gift card in that thank you for those who are going above and beyond. Then at least once or twice a year, gather all your volunteers together for a big celebration.
- You can communicate with your volunteers. One of the biggest complaints churches get from volunteers is that no one is communicating with them. Not only should you be reminding your volunteers when it’s their turn to serve, you also can make them feel important by letting them know what’s coming up in the church before you tell the rest of the congregation.
- You can adequately train your volunteers. Another common complaint churches hear from volunteers is they don’t feel they have enough training to do the job. This is one of the quickest ways to lose volunteers. It’s always wise to let a potential volunteer shadow an experienced volunteer for a time until they feel they’re ready.
- You can recruit more volunteers. There are a few special people in the world who are able to serve week in and week out without needing a break. Most people aren’t like that. They need breaks, which means they need someone to fill in when they’re not there. You can help alleviate their concerns by continually focusing on recruiting more volunteers.
Volunteers aren’t the bottom of the org chart. They’re the foundation of everything you do as a church. If you want a healthy church, you have to start with a firm foundation.
I’d love to hear about what you’re doing to appreciate volunteers in your church. Make sure to scroll down, and leave a comment. Also, make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered straight to your inbox each week.