Helping Volunteers Become True Ministry Partners

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We all have them.  Volunteers who agree to help, but only do the minimum. They arrive for their assignments with seconds to spare and leave right when it’s done.  Of course we desire for them to be more committed than that.  There is no magic bullet, but there are some things we can do to help move them to a higher commitment level.
1. Treat them as more than a name on a spreadsheet. Often volunteers live up to what we expect of them.  If our highest expectations are that they show up, then they will meet those expectations and be done.  Communicate your expectations to them.  Be genuinely glad to see them and
2.  Invest relationally. Pour yourself into your volunteers.  People respond much more to relationship than they ever do to requirements.  Connect with your volunteers.  Call them during the week.  Ask how you can pray for them.  Know the names of their kids.  Invite them over to dinner.
3.  Get their input. Ask for their help in a valuable way.  Take them to lunch and ask their opinions of the ministry.  Include them on a planning team to brainstorm about the future.  The more they feel like they are contributing, the more they will up their commitment.
4.  Help them build relationships with others on the team. Again, relationships are key.  But they don’t need to be just with you.  Help your volunteers be more than just individuals serving in the same place.  Help them truly be a team.  Help them be friends.  Look for opportunities to connect them with each other and build true community.
5.  Hold them accountable. If they don’t show up or don’t do what you need, talk to them about it.  When we don’t hold them accountable we communicate that it really doesn’t matter.  Don’t nag.  Make sure they know the big picture reasons of why you need them to give a more.
6.  Encourage them in what they are doing. People can tell when we are displeased with what they are doing.  When volununteers feel like they are disappointing you, they will tend to become even more unreliable.  Show appreciation for what they are doing.  Even though they may not be what you want them to be yet, you will get them there  faster through encouragement than through nagging.

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