Over the past few days we’ve been looking at simple ways to make your church stickier. Based on visiting multiple churches over the past few months I have found some common areas which, with a little attention, would make it much easier for newcomers to connect. Today let’s finish with an area that every church wants to do well in; attracting new volunteers.
The volunteer maze
My wife has been involved in working with children since she was started leading the children’s choir at her church at the age of 15. She taught public school for many years, worked as an administrator at several public and private schools, served on multiple school boards, led children’s ministry at a local level and was the Children’s Ministry Pastor at Seacoast where she was responsible for over 1000 children on multiple campuses. So she thought it would be fairly simple to volunteer to work in the nursery at our new church. Not so much. She had to be fingerprinted, have a background check, attend an orientation, meet one-on-one with a supervisor, shadow a leader and attend a training meeting. It took her several weeks to finally be placed in a nursery with two bored teenagers and a half dozen babies. While safety and training are very important in children's ministry, giving birth to her own baby was less complicated than this process.
While this is an extreme (though not exaggerated) example, it points to a challenge I see in many churches. How difficult is it to volunteer at your church? Most leaders would say it is very easy. There is always an opportunity to sign up to hand out bulletins, watch babies or park cars. But what if there are higher capacity people in your church who might be able and willing to contribute at a senior level? It is very likely that there are men and women in your auditorium on Sunday who would be willing to share their extensive experience for free if there were an easy way to connect. While they may not be ideally suited to serve coffee or change diapers, they bring years of invaluable expertise. The church that made my wife jump through every standard hoop to babysit missed the opportunity to tap into 30 years of experience. What free expertise and experience are you missing by channeling everyone through the lowest common denominator opportunities?
How can you simplify your onboarding process for new volunteers? How could your church create an obvious and easy on-ramp for high capacity leaders who would like to volunteer in your church? Is there a tool that would help you quickly identify and connect with these leaders? If you can figure this one out the payoff in Kingdom effectiveness will be exponential.