Appreciating Volunteers – 33 Actionable Ideas

Volunteers are the life blood of your church. In fact … your church literally wouldn’t exist without them! Often it’s small actions that show your true feelings about your volunteer teams. Why not pick a few of these things off this list and try them this weekend at your church? The first step towards building healthy volunteer teams is making sure that your existing team members feel appreciated!

  1. At the beginning of every “shift” make sure team leaders cast vision for “why” their service is critical to the vision of the church.
  2. Visit every service area that you are “responsible” for this Sunday and say “thank you.”
  3. Send birthday cards.
  4. Every time a volunteer serves send a “what to expect” email three or four days before.
  5. Assign some people to spend time with new volunteers on the first weekend they serve with you.
  6. Take time out during the message to brag about how amazing your volunteers are.
  7. Get to know what’s happening in your volunteers personal lives.
  8. Make sure there is a enough work for volunteers to do when they arrive … don’t waste their time!
  9. Food … always have a meal available before or after they serve.
  10. Make it easy for your team leaders to send regular thank you notes to their team members.
  11. At the end of every “shift” take time to hear what the volunteers think could be improved on for the future.
  12. Open up leadership development opportunities for volunteers to advance in the church.
  13. Don’t impose new policy’s and procedures without at least talking them through with your team.
  14. Throw parties regularly.
  15. Write letters of reference for students volunteering with you.
  16. Read “impact emails” that you get about how great your church is to your team.
  17. Easy off ramps … don’t lock your team into perpetual service!
  18. Send out a press release to your community paper celebrating your team when they do something “above and beyond”.
  19. Make sure your volunteers are “first to know” about exciting things happening in the future of your church.
  20. Give them a team t-shirt
  21. Make sure everyone has a name tag on.
  22. Use quotes from your team members in your “annual report” … or other donor targeted communications.
  23. Calculate how many hours your volunteers have served in that last year and celebrate that!
  24. Reinforce regularly with paid staff that our #1 role is to support our volunteers.
  25. Take pictures of your volunteers serving and post them on various Social Media channels.
  26. Make sure your volunteers have the best equipment you can afford for them to work with.
  27. Create easy channels for your volunteers to communicate with the church leadership.
  28. Insist that the church reimburse them for out-of-pocket expenses.
  29. Send ‘em a hand signed Christmas card.
  30. Have good coffee and a few snacks available when they arrive.
  31. Allow some volunteers to gain more influence & take on more responsibility.
  32. Take at least one volunteer a week out every week to thank them and get to know them better.
  33. Buy 10 books that have impacted you and give them to 10 volunteers who have gone “above and beyond” recently.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

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