Get Off to a Great Start with Volunteers in the New Year


Deborah Ike says the fresh start of a new year is a great time to implement strategies to strengthen your volunteer team. Her tips include expressing gratitude, seeking feedback, developing volunteer leaders, and delegating more.

There’s something about the start of a new year that invites us to refresh areas of our lives. That could mean initiating a new Bible reading plan, launching a healthier lifestyle, or improving habits. If you have a role in coordinating and leading volunteers, here are a few habits you can cultivate to help your team become healthier and add to its ranks.

1. Express gratitude

You probably had a busy Christmas season with volunteers helping make it all happen. Take a few moments this week to send thank you notes to those who helped out over the holidays. When you meet with volunteer teams before Sunday services next weekend, let them know how much you appreciated their showing up to serve at Christmas. Share any testimonies or reports you have about Christmas services (the number of people who came, the number of salvations, etc.). Those stories help them realize they had an impact on individual lives by serving.

2. Ask for feedback

One disadvantage in being a leader is that you aren’t usually on the front lines seeing what’s going on during each service. You may not realize that the children’s check-in computers ran slowly last week or that the parking team needs new umbrellas. Talk with your volunteer leaders and ask for their input. Consider sending out a link to an online survey so volunteers can quickly provide anonymous feedback. Once you receive their input, implement any improvements possible and give volunteers credit for helping you fix those issues.

3. Invest in volunteer leaders

As your volunteer team grows, you should have an individual or a couple lead volunteers for each service. Invest in these leaders by getting to know them, asking for their input, encouraging them, and helping them grow as followers of Christ and as leaders.

Periodically host a volunteer leader lunch after Sunday services to talk with these leaders, meet their families, and encourage them. Share what’s coming up at the church and ways they can support those efforts, give them advanced notice of any significant changes for them or the volunteers they lead, and ask for input.

4. Delegate more

When you’ve built a team and put your heart into a volunteer program, it’s hard to let go of certain tasks. However, you will stunt your ability to grow as a leader and hold back your team if you’re unwilling to delegate. As an example, let’s say you’re going to delegate leading a volunteer training session. Here are a few simple steps to ensure success:

  • Document the process and your expectations.
  • Show the person you’re delegating to how to perform the task. As an example, have her assist you in leading a training session.
  • Switch roles with your volunteer, having your volunteer act as the trainer and making yourself the assistant.
  • Provide feedback and continue supporting your volunteer until you are both sure he’s ready to go solo.
  • Let go by not attending the next session. Afterward, follow up with your volunteer to ask how it went.

Leading volunteers can be a fun and rewarding experience. Use the fresh start of a new year to implement these tips and watch how these practices strengthen your volunteer team.

This article originally appeared on Used by permission.

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About Author

Deborah Ike is the president and founder of Velocity Ministry Management: a company dedicated to helping church leaders grow their churches and create a life with healthy margins. Deborah launched VMM to serve the church. She is the author of three books and writes for several church-related publications.

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