Friday, April 26, 2013

4 Things Church Volunteers Need

Did you know it is National Volunteer Week, April 21-27? My church is having our annual Worker's Appreciation this coming weekend. There's a BBQ buffet dinner tomorrow and certificate recognition on Sunday. So I wanted to write a little something something about church volunteerism. From volunteer to paid staff in the same kidmin, I've seen different aspects of church volunteerism aka the ministry. There's so much about this subject that it can be overwhelming to think about it, but here's a tiny piece on what I've seen volunteers need. There's more but here's four.

1. They need constant training.  The world is ever changing, and kidmin is affected by life trends. In our modern world, using felt and flannel boards may not work anymore. Okay, it may still be effective in some churches, but not in ours, a church in Silicon Valley where toddlers know how to use smartphones. Volunteers need to be solidly trained in how the ministry works and any changes that may be implemented.

2. They need rotation and breaks...even if you have to force them.  Although I'm concerned about how stressed out and overworked volunteers will affect the kids and the ministry, I'm even more concerned about them. It's better to catch them before they burn out than deal with the fall out, because burn out is not pretty. I don't want them to put their spiritual life secondary to the ministry. I want their relationship with Jesus to flourish. In kidmin, we're always in need of able hands. I think every ministry feels like this. Even Jesus said that the laborers are few. So it may be hard to give a volunteer a break (I call it a hiatus), but if they need it, we must give it.

3. They need a relationship with you.  This is personally hard for me because I'm an introverted person. I'm not the type to pick up a phone just to talk. I can only be around people so long before I need solitude to recharge. Thankfully, I do know all my volunteers though because most of them were my Sunday School kids.

Sideline: To see someone you taught become a leader is so amazing.

But they're young and growing and have so much life - ups, downs, and sideways - being thrown at them, it's sometimes hard to keep track. Volunteers are people with lives and going-on's happening outside the church. Leaders don't have to be their bff's, but they need to be approachable. My church is set up so that every volunteer is involved in a cell/life/Bible study group. Another thank you to my church to make sure our volunteers are connected to a support system. If your church is set up like this, it still doesn't hurt to remind them that you - their ministry leader who may not be their cell/life/Bible study group leader - are also part of their support system.

4. They need to be appreciated year round. Not just with one or two days in a year. They need to know and feel appreciated. Even a simple thank you goes a long way. I'm happy that the church acknowledges them annually, but it's my job to acknowledge them constantly. I hope I do. I think I did last year, but I want to do more this year. And Pinterest board on gift ideas, especially for volunteers.

On a final note, I love my volunteers. They do so much. They're amazing and their hearts are gold. And I just realized I need to take more pictures of our team.

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