Dear Ministry Leader of Volunteers

Dear Ministry Leader in need of volunteers,

Hi. I’m Jason Young. I’d like to volunteer in your ministry, but I’ve been burned out from years of working in the church.

If there is one thing I know, it’s that without a support structure, you will burnout. I’ve seen it first hand and it’s not pretty. In fact, your responsibility is clearly summed up in Ephesians 4:12 – “…equip Christ-followers to do ministry, so that the body of Christ is built up.”

The impact of your ministry is directly connected to the team of people around you. That thought either encourages you or frightens you. If you asked other leaders that you know, “What is a top ministry need?” most of the them will list volunteer recruitment. Do you remember Moses trying to do it all in Exodus 18:1-27? He was overwhelmed and becoming flustered. His father-in-law, Jethro, provided great insight by saying, “What you are doing is not good. You can’t do it alone. Listen to my counsel and God will be with you…let the people bear the burden with you and you will be able to endure…” As great as Moses was, he needed people too. You are in great company.

Let me be honest by saying I am in your corner. I come to church every week. I want to be on a team – to be involved.

Over the years, I have seen a lot of things work and and not work. Let me share with you three things I’ve seen help other leaders win with volunteers.

First, I want to know what we do. What is the God-given picture of the future we are called to fulfill? Asking me to fill a void is not inspiring enough to capture my attention or my time. The desperation dilemma is over done. I am passionate about helping people. Tell me what you want to do to help. Be specific. If the direction is clear, I’ll know if I’m a good fit.

If you are unclear on the vision, admit it to yourself. It’s not okay to fake it. People stewardship is at stake. And volunteers need vision that is clear, repeated, and portable.

Volunteers need vision.

I’ve found that vision comes out of brokenness, desperation, confusion, and even victory. Let this journey be powered by prayer. When that God-given vision is birthed, communicate it well. Keep it simple and tell us often. And, oh, be deeply committed to the vision if you want us to be deeply committed as well.

Second, I want to know why it matters. To be honest, there are a lot of cause-related organizations out there clamoring for volunteers. Not only that, but in the local church there are so many pastors and directors in need of team members. So, why does what you are asking me to do really matter? If there is no high impact, I’m going to pass on joining your team.

Imagine being personally invited by Jesus to share the journey of His ministry. There was something so attractive and inviting that refusing was not an option. What if that same draw existed in how you led volunteers in your area of responsibility?

I want to be part of the toughest job I’ll ever love!

To be honest, I want to know why it matters to my team, why it matters to our local church, why it matters to our community, and why it matters to the world. Providing me a visual of my personal impact is powerful because it gives me permission to be God’s best and know that what I am doing has tremendous kingdom value.

Third, I want to know how we do it. I often find trying to volunteer in the church can be like a mouse in a maze looking for cheese – hard to navigate. What if there was a clear-cut path that helped volunteers understand where the on-ramp was to getting involved?

What if there was a clear-cut path that helped volunteers understand where the on-ramp was to getting involved?

I know it’s easier said than done. It is hard enough to work with paid employees, much less, volunteers.

Perhaps these six elements could help to create a culture of healthy volunteers:

  • Have an open casting for volunteers. Gather a pool of prospects.
  • Identify the right fits. Sift prospects to find those that are in alignment with the vision.
  • Give volunteers the right tools. People need to be equipped to be effective.
  • Provide constant care. Leadership is caring for, supporting, and developing people.
  • Measure what matters. Knowing how you’re doing helps you make adjustments.
  • Celebrate what you want repeated. Make a big deal about what is specifically going well.

I want you to win! Staff leaders in the church come and go. Imagine being the leader that stayed because you possessed the essentials needed to lead people. To personally lead volunteers effectively, here is a short list of action-oriented elements to include in your rhythm:

  • Grow spiritually
  • Protect your integrity
  • Understand your role at work
  • Remain deeply committed to the mission of the organization
  • Grow your relationships
  • Develop leaders
  • Champion the culture of volunteers
  • Demonstrate positive faith
  • Think with strategic foresight
I know you are trusting God to bring the right people on the team. Remember that God is trusting you to carry out His plan right where you are, with exactly what you have, for right now.

Sincerely,

Your Next Potential Volunteer