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If you haven’t already, hop over and see Part 1, the first 5 keys that have seen success in recruiting, training, and retaining volunteers for family ministry! These tips should work for volunteers in any age range of family ministry, but obviously, I’m over student ministry!
Here are the second half of my 10 Keys to Family Ministry Volunteers!
6. Catch them “doing right” and recognize it publicly. Notes are great. Pat-on-the-backs are great. But, bragging on a volunteer for doing something right in public? Gold. Even better, thank their spouses in front of other people. The spouse feels affirmed in the sacrifice they make, proud of their spouse, and your volunteer will eventually hear, too. Keep in mind, don’t wait until it’s done perfectly to encourage them!
7. Empower, don’t just delegate. This is one of the least earth-shattering, and this also isn’t a blanket statement. Look for opportunities to give freedom and decision-making power to volunteers who are ready for it, rather than having them filter decisions and options through you.
8. When correcting or “dismissing” a volunteer, document it! Any time I have a conversation involving conflict or dispute, I do two things. One, I end the conversation by asking, “What did you hear me say?” Two, I document it! When I get back to the office, or when they leave my office, I open up Word and type as much as I can remember. I can’t tell you how many situations, ranging from foot-in-mouth to serious-what-was-said predicaments, I’ve gone back and reviewed my notes. Sometimes, your boss needs to be filled in. Other times, they may accuse you of saying things you didn’t. I know that my memory won’t stay reliable. Details fade. Documents don’t. Keep in mind, 1) you cannot make recordings without their consent (which is why I just type it out after the fact), 2) as soon as you save and/or print a document involving sensitive material (particularly depending upon the topic of conversation), you are responsible for ensuring that confidentiality and security of the document.
9. CLEAR expectations and processes. Some of my biggest frustrations have come from volunteers not living up to expectations they didn’t know about. Even worse, some of them have been from them not living up to expectations they thought they were upholding. Don’t assume they know the lingo, processes, or expectations. Clarity in disciplinary follow-up also does wonders. Part of our training involves walking them through what the discipline/correction process looks like. This way, if/when the time comes, you’ve covered yourself and run a lower risk of destroying relationships.
10. Say no when you need to say no. Not everyone is a good fit for student ministry. Not everyone is a good fit for the particular role in student ministry they want to have. The creepy guy with no social awareness; the lady who knows “leading a Bible study will actually encourage me to start reading the Bible myself;” the guy who gives a vibe along the lines of, “I can’t believe they put you in charge, I can do so much better.” They may not be great fits. There are some times where no is best for both sides. In some cases, it may free them up to do something they want to do, rather than serving out of guilt or assumed-responsibility. In other cases, it may allow them to serve in an area of student ministry they didn’t see value in, expanding their horizons. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t go well. But your first role is to disciple students, not please people by giving them a way to check of “Did something nice.”
So…that’s the 10! Now the fun part, what are 3 things that have seen huge success in your ministry to volunteers?!