by Kendal Drinkwine | Your church is uniquely, so the way you search should be uniquely.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of ministry, and as Tony Morgan and Tim Stevens said in their book Simply Strategic Volunteers, “Real leaders lead volunteers.”
In our work helping churches find their key staff, we often hear the churches say, “We’re looking for someone who can effectively lead, inspire, and develop volunteer teams.”
As a church leader, are you leading volunteers effectively? This starts by finding and retaining the right volunteers for your ministry. What are the characteristics you should look for when building high-capacity volunteer teams?
Here is a list of questions to ask yourself:
1. Do they have a passion for your specific area of service?
First and foremost, does this person have a heart for your specific ministry within the greater church? Do they love kids? Are they energized by making connections with new people? Are they great at operations?
Don’t just plug and play with your volunteers. If a volunteer is only serving out of obligation and not passion, they will experience burnout faster, and you’ll constantly be looking for more volunteers. Find a ministry that aligns with their natural gift set – something that only they can do – so that they can bring the most value to the ministry and find joy in serving.
2. Do they have time?
Regardless of the weight of responsibility, volunteering is always a time commitment. Is volunteering in your ministry a sacrifice that your volunteers are able, willing, and happy to make?
Look for someone who is interested in making a somewhat long-term investment in volunteering. They don’t need to commit to years of volunteering upfront, but having someone who is loyal to your ministry and willing to make the time investment consistently will serve your church well long-term.
Also, watch out for the over-committers who will say ‘yes’ to anything. The over-committer will be involved in the worship band, the greeting team, and the youth ministry all while having a full-time job and balancing a family. The over-committer can do most things well and loves to be involved in everything, but the over-committer also gets burnt out very quickly. Sometimes the over-committer is only there for a few months and the last thing you need are people in and out of your ministry like a revolving door.
3. Is there diversity on your volunteer team?
Look for folks who round out your ministry. When people think ministry volunteers, they often think “extrovert.” While extroverts have great qualities and are typically gifted with people, you need a mix of personalities, gift sets, and backgrounds on a healthy volunteer team.
This ties back to the second point about aligning passion with volunteer roles. Look for outgoing personalities who love to connect with big groups of people as well as people who are shy and might prefer to serve behind the scenes.
Just because someone is quiet or less social does not limit his or her ability to connect. Look for people who have different gifts so that your ministry team is well diversified.
4. Do you know their background?
Volunteers in children’s ministry typically must have a background check completed before they’re able to volunteer. We recommend you do this for all key volunteer roles in your church. You might even consider talking with references, especially if the volunteer is leading others or managing money. You shouldn’t live in fear, but it’s important that you can fully trust your volunteers.
Also, as a leader, build intentional relationships with your volunteers and get to know them personally. Do you know this person’s history? Do you know what they are struggling with?
Building intentional relationships with your volunteers increases trust and chemistry on your team.
5. Are they being spiritually fed?
Volunteering in any ministry should also bring community. Build community through your volunteer team. Spend time together, do a Bible study together, and invest in each other’s lives and families.
It is easy to get burnt out if you are constantly pouring out but not being poured into. As a leader, ensure your volunteers are being poured into.
Great church leaders build great volunteer teams. Use these questions as a starting place for building and improving your volunteer team.