This guest post was written by Josh Denhart.
Let’s face it. There are times in ministry when managing volunteers feels like your full-time job.
Recruiting, training, retaining — it is NOT easy, but it has to be done.
Out of desperation, ministry leaders can fall into the trap of “filing the slot.”
We’ve all been there.
But the reality exists: Some people, at best, are not a good fit. At worst, are dangerous to the mission.
They are the wrong recruits for your ministry even if you need help.
After a decade of ministry experience leading 450 volunteers on a month-in-and-month-out basis, I have had my fair share of volunteer leadership challenges.
I want to act as your guide.
You CAN successfully recruit, train and retain volunteers who will be a blessing to your ministry and will be BLESSED by your leadership.
AND you can NEVER recruit the wrong people for your ministry again.
First, we will consider how to enlist the RIGHT volunteers through Job Shadowing.
Second, you will learn how to graciously guide volunteers toward a timely off-ramp through the Sunset Clause.
Third, you will consider how to handle tough situations through the Challenging Convo Guide.
1. Create a Job Shadowing Experience
An old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Before a volunteer is enlisted to serve, they should pass through a series of healthy checkpoints.
One of which is Job Shadowing.
Pairing a potential volunteer with a more seasoned volunteer allows for an organic conversation to cover the “best things” and “hardest things” about any potential role.
This simple exercise will not only open the eyes of the potential volunteer but will allow them to test drive this new role before committing.
2. Create a Sunset Clause
The Sunset Clause allows a defined starting point, a time for reflection, and a defined stopping point for their service.
- Sun Rises – The sun comes up and the opportunity to serve begins.
- High Noon – Halfway through the serving opportunity, we have a formal check-in to see if things are working for THEM as a volunteer and if they are working for US as a staff.
- Sun Sets – At the end of the commitment, both the staff and the volunteer evaluate if this has been a good fit for everyone involved. If either party would like to move in a different direction, the commitment is complete.
The Sunset Clause provides a clear on-ramp and a clear off-ramp. Remember, if this was not a good fit, there are plenty of other on-ramps where a volunteer can try another role.
3. The “Challenging Convo Guide”
Ministry is filled with challenging conversations.
Here are a few topics you can think through so the next time you need to have a hard conversation you will not feel at a loss for words.
- Right Person, Wrong Seat. How can you help a valuable volunteer find the right area to serve?
- Being Late Just Ain’t Great. Can you graciously and effectively communicate the importance of timeliness?
- Serving from a Place of Health. Do you need to approach a volunteer about focusing on their own spiritual health before serving with your ministry?
As leaders, you have a lot on your plate when it comes to recruiting volunteers.
You want to find the right people to fill the right seats to make the biggest kingdom impact in the lives of the kids you serve.
That’s why never recruiting the wrong people is so important. Because your time is so valuable and the mission matters.
By following these leadership tips, you can save time and stress when recruiting your next team for kid’s ministry.
And that will be worth it!
Visit www.leadvolunteers.com and let’s dive deep into developing a plan for your specific ministry context so you can WIN at leading volunteers!
Josh Dehart is the founder of KidMin Science: Science-Inspired, Christ-Focused Resources. Josh is a seasoned educator with BA in Chemistry Education, and a MA in Effective Instruction, and has spent more than 10 years in the classroom and 10 years in church ministry. Out of this unique background, Josh created “The Amazing Chemistry Show,” a traveling gospel-centered stage show with fire, explosions, and foam. He recently launched leadvolunteers.com the most comprehensive leadership resource to recruit, train and retain volunteers. Josh is a published author, and children’s magazine columnist and has a regular spot on local TV performing fun science.