How to Deal With Unhappy Church Volunteers

How to Deal with Unhappy Church Volunteers

Wanted. Appreciated. Equipped. Loved. Valued. When you polled your volunteers last (you are polling them, right?), these were some of the reasons why your volunteers are happy.

We know these truths, yet the demands of ministry and the fact that Sunday comes every seven days can place the burden to facilitate, organize, train and schedule our volunteers squarely on our shoulders. It can be overwhelming to try to manage, not to mention trying to help volunteers find their best fit.

How awesome would it be if you already knew each volunteer’s best fit—before they ever started volunteering? That’s exactly the goal behind MAP Coaching at Gateway Church in Southlake, TX—my home church!

MAP Coaching

At Gateway Church where I volunteer, there’s a process in place for helping anyone who wants to volunteer to find out where they’re best gifted to serve. The process begins with sessions, where new attendees learn about the DNA, mission and vision of  the church. At the end of these informative sessions, attendees can choose to take their DISC profileSpiritual Gifts assessment and even the Strengths Finder assessment. The combination of these profiles provides Gateway with a strong baseline understanding of their top five natural strengths, their personality traits and their top spiritual gifts.

That’s where we come in. As MAP coaches (Ministry Activation Program), we help activate Gateway members in service for God’s Kingdom via each individual’s God-given fingerprint to serve. Any volunteer candidate that desires to meet with a MAP coach receives communication from their assigned coach to schedule a time to meet before or after weekend services. Armed with ‘discovery questions,’ the MAP coach helps the volunteer candidate find opportunities of service that fit their gifts, personality and strengths.

I’ve seen first-hand what this feels like from a volunteer’s perspective and now I get to help new volunteer candidates learn how God has uniquely gifted them for their sweet spot of service!

Additional Thoughts

While I’m a huge fan of the MAP coaching process, I also know that there are some other details that are worth sharing with church staff already feeling the pinch on volunteer satisfaction. As with any good process, this one is led well, equips the coaches with training and utilizes existing tools to help streamline the workflow. As a volunteer, I’m not directly touching the church membership database (Gateway uses Fellowship One), but I am logging into the volunteer side of things where I can see who is assigned to me, capture notes from conversations and communicate in the database to the staff about each volunteer candidate. I don’t have access to look at the database, but by giving us volunteers a secure and streamlined workflow for sharing results with the staff, we handle some of the administrative workload in keeping up with hundreds of candidates.

The structure in place at Gateway Church is similar to other churches I’ve worked with that leverage a centralized database: They keep the information updated and control how much access and visibility a volunteer has to each candidate. The key here is that a simplified process allows the workload to be spread far beyond any one database person. This vastly increases responsiveness and reduces an otherwise potentially onerous bottleneck.

The other big fact here is that Gateway Church puts a lot of value and emphasis on volunteers. This is the culture and DNA of Gateway; volunteerism is high because people typically get to serve where they’re naturally gifted. Because of this culture, programs like the MAP coaching model are given plenty of room to succeed. Still, everything is a work in progress (permission to fail while trying is okay) and we’re still learning as we go. We’re rolling out MAP coaching to an ever-increasing pool of volunteers across multiple campuses and learning as we go.

As a volunteer in this organization, I’ve enjoyed seeing just how much has been accomplished with strong leadership, a clear vision and an abundance of grace. That’s why I wanted to share this with my friends at churches everywhere!

This article originally appeared here.

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Anthony Coppedge
Anthony has worked in the secular world of A/V, the ministry world of church staff and the para-church ministry of three companies that serve the church space (Auxano, Fellowship Technologies and Worlds of Wow!). Today, his consultancy focuses on helping churches and para-church ministries leverage appropriate systems, processes and technologies for more effective ministry. Anthony leads out of his strengths of effectively caring for people, efficiently managing resources and enabling scalable growth. He has been consulting, teaching, writing and speaking to church and business leaders for nearly 20 years.