March 6, 2017 — by Michael Clark

A Simple and Effective Way to Help Your Volunteers Succeed!


In our churches, we are always looking for volunteers to fulfill the many ministries and outreach programs. When someone volunteers, we get so eager for their help that we place them into a need without giving them adequate training. Without this training, they are set up to fail and won’t stay involved long. Then we have to look for another volunteer.

We want to set up our volunteers to succeed. So, after finding a willing volunteer, a very simple yet effective process to disciple and train new volunteers is simply this:

  1. Have the volunteer watch you carry out the responsibility.
  2. Have the volunteer help you carry out the responsibility.
  3. You help the volunteer carry out the responsibility.
  4. You watch the volunteer carry out the responsibility.

Now you don’t want to move to the next step until you feel the volunteer is ready to move forward. You want them to be ready to succeed.

By the way, another very helpful way to train is to make sure each detail of how to carry out the responsibility involved is outlined in what is called a ‘playbook.’ This playbook becomes the reference tool for success in carrying out the responsibilities. Every ministry responsibility in a church should have a ‘playbook.’

As simple as this process of training and discipling sounds, how often do we truly follow it? Burnout and turnover of volunteers is so high because we just throw them into the situation. Why? Because we don’t feel we have the time to do the training. So either we decide to just to carry out the responsibility ourselves (which leads to our burnout and/or little getting done) or we throw the willing person into the situation without adequate training.

We need to change our mindset about ministry in the church. We need to realize that our job as pastors or ministry staff is not to carry out the ministry but to hand over the ministry to the true ‘ministers’ of the church – the members of the church body. The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:11-12 stated it this way (NLT) “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”

With the initial investment of our time as pastors and ministry staff into the discipleship of the church members, we will find a greater retention of our volunteers. We will also experience a church much healthier, happier and successful in carrying out the ministry and mission that brings glory to the Lord.

Grace and peace, Pastor Mike Clark, Church of the Valley, Apple Valley, CA

Michael Clark

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