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3 Practical Necessities to Lead Your Volunteers

Leading volunteers is a very special calling. Volunteers can walk out any time they’d like, and in many instances, they bail because a staff member didn’t and/or doesn’t understand their world.

If you’re a pastor who has never been a volunteer in your adult years, I hope you’ll read these three facts and keep them in mind.

1. Volunteers need to know that you hear them.

When a volunteer makes a request of you, as they voice it and in their presence, jot it down or type it into your phone or iPad. This will assure the volunteer that their request is important to you and that it won’t be forgotten.

2. When a volunteer makes a request, accomplish it quickly.

If a church volunteer makes a request of a staff member, the volunteer is anticipating that, unless the staff member tells them otherwise, that request will be accomplished by the next time the volunteer arrives at a church gathering or the next time they’re carrying out the ministry they are involved in.

If it’s not completed in that amount of time, the volunteer may lose respect for the staff member, which will lead to a loss of influence. If this happens consistently, the volunteer will probably bail. Even if they don’t, they may become a thorn in your flesh.

3. Schedule meetings far in advance.

Volunteers have lives outside of church life.

Scheduling a meeting two weeks in advance means many volunteers will either have to change their schedule or not be able to attend. Either way, there will be a cringe factor that the staff member has created, and the deepest cringe will happen in your best volunteers.

They want to be home run hitters, but you just sent them to the plate having blindfolded them. They can’t see any way to be in two places at once. Their only option is to strike out.

Meetings for volunteers should be scheduled at least six weeks in advance; eight weeks or more would be even better. 

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Rick has one passion… To see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet making disciples that make disciples.” He is presently pursuing this passion as the Small Group and Discipleship Specialist at LifeWay Church Resources. Rick has authored or co-authored multiple books, studies, and leader training resources including A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic, Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual, The Gospel and the Truth: Living the Message of Jesus, Small Group Life Ministry Manual: A New Approach to Small Groups, Redeeming the Tears: a Journey Through Grief and Loss, Small Group Life: Kingdom, Small Group Kickoff Retreat: Experiential Training for Small Group Leaders, and Great Beginnings: Your First Small Group Study, Disciples Path: A Practical Guide to Disciple Making. Rick’s varied ministry experiences as an collegiate minister, small group pastor, teaching pastor, elder, full-time trainer and church consultant, as well as having been a successful church planter gives him a perspective of church life that is all-encompassing and multi-dimensional. Rick is a highly sought after communicator and trainer.