The greatest asset to ministry teams is volunteers – and the greatest weakness is a church that doesn’t have a pulse on their volunteer teams. Proactively assessing volunteer teams and individual volunteers can build and maintain healthy relationships, prevent burnout, and create synergy for the mission. 

Assess – 80% of the problem starts here:

When you take the time to determine what your real needs are in a ministry it will provide clarity and confidence when you begin the recruiting process. Assessment is an important exercise before your recruitment begins.  Assessment answers the question, “Why do I need this particular role filled?”

  • Clarify for yourself why it is important to fill the role before asking anyone to join.
  • If your “why” is unclear your “what” lacks sharpness
  • Identify the Key Result Areas you want this role to fulfill

Best Practice:

Consult with others who have already done what you aspire to do.

  1. Who do you know that has already filled a role like you are attempting to fill?
  2. What did they do?
  3. What else can you learn from their experience?

Recruit – personalize the invitation to serve:

A general announcement from the stage will generate a certain level of interest from the crowd. Contrast that with a conversation over a cup of coffee to learn the person’s vision for their life, goals, and passions.  In that context, share what you see in the person and what they would bring to the role. Explain the responsibilities, the support that you or someone else will provide, and then ask them what you want them to consider. Give them a week to pray about the opportunity and then follow up.

  • Know what you are looking for in the person you are engaging
  • Understand the type of person that will be a good fit
  • Personally invite people into the role

Best Practice:

Use assessments to assess various aspects of a person’s attributes, such as:

  • Spiritual Gift 
  • Behavioral Style
  • Strengths
  • Interests
  • Team Values

One of my go-to assessments for this information is the GripBirkman. You can assess the 5 areas above individually or combined (in one assessment).  

  • CLICK HERE for more information.  
  • CLICK HERE if you would like to take the assessment along with a 1-hour debrief.

Support – be intentional about providing support.

The challenge for recruiting and retaining volunteers is to find ways to support them so that they do not become weary. A regular rhythm of meeting as a team, individual check-ins, and fun team-building activities is so, so important to building a healthy team culture.   

  • Keep a pulse on the level of engagement and fulfillment they are experiencing in their role about every 6-12 months to avoid burn-out!
  • Informally ask team members how they are doing. Use these conversations to get a sense of how they are engaging in the role you’ve asked them to fill. If you are not their direct supervisor, ask their team lead to check-in periodically. This will help to avoid team members from stagnating in their role.
  • This is the biggest reason volunteers claim, “I am too busy.”

Best Practice:

Team Huddles are a great environment to reinforce team culture by reviewing your ministry values. For instance, Gina and I are part of a new church plant and every Sunday about 30 volunteers help make the experience warm, inviting and fun. After setup and before the first service preparation gets going, we meet together for about 15-20 minutes to gather all the volunteers together for Leadership Community to remind people of our “why”. The Huddle is sort of the head of the spear for all of our Sunday morning volunteers. We lead the Welcome Team and hold a more personal, scaled down version with our team to share the following:

  • What’s on your mind this morning?
  • How can we pray for you? 

Then we close our time in prayer for each other with full participation by each member. One-sentence prayers are an easy and comfortable onramp for our people to exercise that muscle. Then we go off to our various assignments!

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Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash


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