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You want to put the “want to” not the “have to” into your volunteers. Volunteers never go beyond their leadership.

1. Appreciate and recognize them.
Personal phone calls, handwritten notes, newsletter or bulletin recognition, special parking or seating, talk to them, offer praise from the pulpit with a special gift that says “Thank you we noticed. You serve well.” Public appreciation also helps others see what service opportunities are available, and what service does for the server. Do a video testimony; give them a copy and place it on the website.

2. Be flexible.
Rather than asking for 12 months straight commitment, consider a rotating schedule or other flexible arrangements. Work without faith is dead.  People want to serve!

3. Provide guidelines.
Uncertainty breeds anxiety and saps people's energy. Make sure your volunteers can state what you want them to do. Write it down and make it plain. Habakkuk 2 verse 2-3 says, "write the vision make it plain for he who reads it can run with it." Assuming is the number one fuel for strife.

4. Give them ownership.
Continued workers are those who know the project is there to complete.
Respect their time. Remember most volunteers are juggling other responsibilities in addition to what they are doing for you. Respect people's time constraints. Don't expect too much or you will burn them out.

5. Value them.
Asking volunteers for their opinion or insight can help you and validate them as well. They need to feel their opinions and performance are respected and needed. (Do a special weekend once a year on promoting serving in the church. Do some type of ministry fair. Have testimonies from people who are serving and how their lives have changed.)

6. Allow mistakes.
Give people the freedom to fall short occasionally. If you are unsure what someone is capable of, first give that person a task you can afford to let him or her mess up. Those who are faithful in the least will be faithful in much.

7. Give them time off.
Everyone needs a break. Make sure your schedule allows people a chance to rest. The head usher should not let us work two services in a row. Faith without works is dead, but faith with works is alive.

8. Celebrate together.
Look for reasons to have a party and recognize accomplishments. People who enjoy good times together will laugh more, complain last, and trust each other more.

9. Provide ongoing training.
Regular training sessions keeps workers sharp and convey the attitude that what they do is valuable. Effective training is done right before something needs doing. Train in small doses, minutes rather than hours. Train in the location where volunteers will actually do the job. Enlist the help of people in your congregation; maybe you have professional trainers who would help do the training. Provide continuous education and training by department. Learn to stay sharp on people skills, delegating techniques, what it takes to do their job better.

10. Problem-solving.
Provide a way for workers to air their concerns and work together to solve problems. Train them to bring an idea for a solution when they want to address the problem.

MOIH International
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Dr. Buddy Bell
Web site: Ministry of Helps International
"A Pastor's Friend" Since 1977, Dr. Buddy Bell has been serving pastors and families in the local church. Because of his faithfulness and commitment to serve, God has anointed him to teach on the Ministry of Helps.

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