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How to Make Volunteer Meetings Worthwhile

How to Make Volunteer Meetings Worthwhile

A few weeks ago a friend who is starting out in ministry asked me two questions:

First Question: “How often do you meet with your volunteers all together?”

1) Meetings Every Two Months, Not Every Month: My volunteers are busy and I prefer to honor their time and their families by keeping it to every two months. However, it’s important to “supplement” them with other training and communication.

2) Weekly Email Updates: This helps them to keep plugged in with the details of the programs and upcoming events. I also text, call, tweet and email leaders individually.

3) Training/Update Videos: On the months we do not meet I create quick (six- to eight-minute) videos that include programmatic information and a quick training tip for them. The training tip is usually something I have seen in the previous weeks that I want my volunteers focus on.

Second Question: “What do you do in meetings to make them worthwhile?”

1) Keep Them Efficient and Short! If I can get get meetings done in under 90 minutes that is my goal, (I actually shoot for 60 minutes). Again, it’s important I honor leaders’ time, but it’s also imperative that I realize that more than 90 minutes of a meeting equals too much information for them. I want my leaders to walk away with one or two pressing applications.

2) Create a Successful Format: I have found a healthy format that seems to work for my volunteers and I have had good feedback too. Here’s what it looks like:

a) Share your “God moments” in students’ lives. (This is kind of what Andy Stanley refers to as talking about your “wins” in ministry.)

b) Share struggles you need help with. This is where I open up the meeting for anyone to share to struggles or ask for clarifications about the ministry. I also ask other leaders to give their feedback and advice to leaders who are struggling. It’s a great way to empower the knowledge base of veteran volunteers to help the rookies too. When they can give the advice, I love to sit back and listen!

c) Training tip. Usually a “teachable moment” training tip based on what I have been seeing in our events and programs.

d) Message series and teaching schedule coming up in the next two months. (This includes a handout of a schedule that includes the message title, big idea, Bible passages and creative ideas.)

e) Calendar, events, etc.

f) Any other business?

3) Meet Somewhere Great: Whenever I can, I try to meet at a coffee house or place like that. In our city we have a Panera Bread. We have our meetings on a Saturday morning and the leaders get treated to coffee and breakfast. I find it helps us all to relax and be more conversational. Panera Bread is not incredible, but it still beats church coffee!

4) Get Feedback on Best Meeting Times: Instead of assuming I know best, it’s better to ask the leaders when the best time would be. For my discipleship leaders, they said that Saturday morning is the best time to meet. For my large group leaders, they want to meet immediately following the program on a Wednesday evening. Given the option of being out on another day, they said they prefer to “get it all done on the same day.”

5) Split Up Teams: I have all my leaders together for BBQs, Christmas parties and Year End “Firing Parties” (you can ask me about that if you like). However, for my meetings every two months, I meet them by team/program. If I was to have everyone together, it would only water down the content and make much of it seem irrelevant to certain leaders for parts of the meeting. Even when I have had small volunteer teams, I have still found it important to meet separately. With that said, as mentioned, it is imperative to have times when “we all come together” to celebrate, connect and build each other up. It’s also important that I connect the dots for how all the programs and teams work together to fulfill the vision… Make sense?

AND FINALLY, and I think most importantly… Don’t forget that when we are at youth programs with our leaders, some of the best training opportunities come when we can have quick teachable moments with a leader and encourage them in what they are doing. Don’t think it all has to be covered at a meeting…

This is what I do, I am sure there are better ways… What ideas can you give me for leading your volunteers?


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Phil Bell is a Family Ministry Pastor with over 15 years’ experience ministering to families. He is a national speaker, columnist, and author. He is the author of Team Up! The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering with Parents and is passionate about investing in families and equipping parents to reach the next generation for Christ. He is originally from England and now lives in North Carolina serving at Hope Community Church.