When I was a youth worker one of my biggest struggles was finding and training volunteers. I remember calling my conference office asking for help with my volunteers. I was referred to the Safe Sanctuaries Youth Handbook. Not exactly what I was looking for…
I’ve written about the need to raise the expectations of volunteers. I was guilty of it when I worked in the local church. I didn’t want just a warm body to satisfy Safe Sanctuaries, I just didn’t know how to articulate what I did want. I didn’t want to make the job sound too demanding or complicated, so I watered everything down. While I had some of the most dedicated and incredible volunteers, I often wonder how much better things would have been if I’d been more specific.
I encourage youth workers and pastors to perform this simple exercise when they are struggling with obtaining or holding on to volunteers.
On the front side of a dozen or more 3×5 cards write the job you’d like someone to perform. Suggestions: Snack Supper Coordinator, Event Driver, Money Taker, Small Group Leader, Sunday School Teacher, Mission Trip Coordinator, and games player.
Once you have written all the jobs you can possibly think of, start writing job descriptions on the back. Write down what you’d want from a volunteer in an ideal world.
Here are a few:
Snack Supper Coordinator – recruits people to bring snack supper, organizes the calendar and sends out reminders, makes sure everything gets set up and cleaned up each week.
Small group leader – attends quarterly small group leader training, arrives early and stays late at each small group meeting, encourages student leadership, invests in the lives of students by attending games, concerts, and other important events, writes encouraging notes to students, understands and endorses Safe Sanctuaries.
Sunday Evening Volunteer – Attends 90% of Sunday evening events. Encourages student participation and helps students engage in the message, worship, game, or whatever is going on. Attends to the students that are on the fringes.
You should make these job descriptions as specific as possible. Note the schedule for snack supper and stick to it. Do not just ask someone to be a warm body to satisfy Safe Sanctuaries. You might get more ‘no’s when you are this specific, but you’ll get more confident ‘yes’s. When people know what they are saying yes to and how they are being evaluated.
Of course you will want any volunteers working with youth (and children!) background checked. I would also recommend having all volunteers sign a covenant annually. This gives you an opportunity to review your expectations with them. This also gives them an opportunity to graciously step down from their positions. A covenant could say anything you want, but I’d recommend including worship attendance, church involvement, and spiritual growth.
If you have questions about Safe Sanctuaries, I’d encourage you to attend one of the two trainings being provided by the Central Texas Conference. Check out the flier: Safe Sanctuary Flier
This is by no means an exhaustive post about recruitment and training of volunteers. Just a few helpful hints. If you would like more information or help for your specific ministry setting, please do not hesitate to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org or 817-877-5222.
How do you recruit, train, and minister to your adult volunteers?