Do You Make These Mistakes With Your Volunteers?

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spilled coffee symbolic of a careless mistake
Volunteers are essential in every children’s ministry, but too many  get discouraged and eventually quit because leaders make the following mistakes. We simply can’t be careless with the people resources God has sent our way. Work to avoid these mistakes and help keep your volunteers committed and serving in the children’s department. Click here to add your comment to this conversation.

1. Matching volunteers with the urgent need (and ignoring where they are gifted)

Matching service opportunity with gifting is the first and most important step to keeping your volunteers, yet it can also be the most challenging.  A volunteer will be most committed and give their best when they are serving in a position where they are gifted.  Many times in churches we are hasty to fill an open spot and we do not take the time to find the best person for the job.
When you have a church member who wants to volunteer in your children’s department, sit down with them to discuss ways they would like to serve.  Talk with them about areas in the church where they have served in the past.  Work with them to determine where their gifting lies. A person who is serving where they are gifted will find joy in their service.
This may require you to shift some of your volunteers around to new roles.  How often do our volunteers get stuck in ruts because they are just serving where they have always served?  Perhaps a person could be better used in a different area or new role?  Going about carefully placing volunteers requires time, discernment, and sometimes tough conversations.  But, following this first step will pay off in the long run because you will have volunteers serving where they can best be used by the Lord.

2. Not establishing (and using) job descriptions

Volunteers need to know exactly what is expected of them in their role.  This will be beneficial to both you as the director and to those who volunteer.  When asking a person in your church to volunteer, they need to know exactly what they are volunteering for.  If you can hand them a detailed list of what you expect from them, then they will know what is required and can make an informed decision before they make a commitment to you.
Maintaining clear job descriptions helps you as the director make sure every necessary task is being accomplished.  With job descriptions you will avoid having more than one person covering the same task and also ensure no task gets left undone.  A volunteer is more likely to work hard when they know what is expected of them.

3.  Inconsistent communication

There is a fine line to walk here.  You need to be in regular contact with your volunteers to make sure they feel supported.  Yet, you also do not want to check in with them so often they feel you do not trust them to fulfill their role with competence.  Beware of micromanaging and trust those whom the Lord has entrusted to your ministry.
Send out an email or make a phone call promptly when there is vital information about upcoming dates or changes they need to know.  And reply promptly to any emails or phone calls from your volunteers.  They need to know you listen and care about their concerns and suggestions.

4.  Assuming you’ve given “enough” encouragement

Volunteers can get bogged down and lose sight of the bigger picture.  Point out to them when you see their gifts being used by God to touch children’s hearts.  When a parent gives you an encouraging comment about how their child is doing, pass it along to your volunteer who works most closely with that child.  Consistent encouragement from you will help spur on your volunteers to continue working hard and remain committed to your ministry.
Above all else, get to know your volunteers.  As you get to know them more, you will learn how to better support and equip them to effectively minister to the children within your church.

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