Want Thriving Volunteers? Get to Know Them!

By Kathryn Featherstone

Our ministries are powered by volunteers. Sometimes we feel the need to simply fill volunteer slots, delegate, and then let them do their thing.

But as leaders, if we build relationships with our volunteers, we will create an environment where volunteers stay engaged and thrive as part of our church.

Why should we take time to get to know our volunteers?

Volunteers typically get involved because they want to feel connected with people in their church. Service opportunities are a natural place to build relationships. Your interaction with volunteers validates that they are serving in a meaningful way. But if they fail to feel connected or if they feel as if their work isn’t valued, they will likely stop volunteering.

As we get to know volunteers, we also learn more about their likes and dislikes, their talents, and their gifts. This gives us insight when we are placing them in volunteer roles or troubleshooting volunteer issues. When people serve in ways that fit their gifting and abilities, it's much more satisfying and they are likely serve in that role longer.

What steps can we take to get to know our volunteers better?

  1. Know their names, and make a point to call them by name. This is especially important in larger churches, but also true for new volunteers in any size of church.
  2. Show interest in them. Find out something about their life or what they do; then remember to ask about it later. Our listening and then remembering shows real care!
  3. Ask them questions: “Are there other volunteer roles that may interest you in the future?” “Do you have any new ideas for this ministry?” or “Do you have an ability or talent you’d like to use that I don't know about?” We never know what a volunteer might share! It could open up new possibilities and allow that volunteer to become more engaged.
  4. Meet with key volunteers for coffee or lunch. As we model investing in volunteers, we can ask them to invest in the other volunteers they work with.

Let’s take the time to build relationships with our volunteers! There is a lot to do in ministry, and relationships take time. But, if you stop and think about the example Jesus’ gave us during his earthly ministry, you’ll see that this model of ministry follows his example. He spent a lot of time investing in his disciples!

Building relationships builds a ministry based on love. And as we grow our volunteer teams, we’ll have the opportunity to share that love of Jesus as we share responsibility with trusted ministry partners!

How will you get to know your volunteers better this fall? Which group of volunteers will be first?

Editor’s note: Today we welcome Kathryn Featherstone to the CTA blog! She is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and a board-certified Christian Life Coach. She helps people live and love well out of their strengths and their relationship with Christ. Get to know her more at livealifeoflove.org.

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