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How to Win the Volunteer Struggle

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Explore ways to get and keep volunteers—a problem most ministries face, regardless of the ministry’s size and scope.

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Guests: A. Trevor Sutton. Trevor is a pastor and writer living in Lansing, MI, where his diverse congregation spans two campuses—one that’s urban and one in the suburbs—and speakers of an interesting variety of languages.

Introduction: Explore ways to get and keep volunteers—a problem most ministries face, regardless of the ministry’s size and scope.

Show Notes:  

  • Frustration of getting and keeping volunteers (tip of ICEBERG)
    • How and where to find them
    • Same people all the time
    • Complicated network of issues that arise (the tip of the iceberg): fear, capability, busyness, details, end date, appreciation, previous experiences
  • Testing people’s assumptions—are the assumptions really true?
  • How to get to the root of the struggle: play the WHY game (Toyota’s approach)
  • Pyramid approach
    • Least effective ways to ask
      • Broad approach: announcement in church or newsletter or email
      • Generic
    • Most effective ways to ask
      • Narrow or focused approach
      • Personal, use a template but add a personal greeting
      • One-on-one conversation
    • Matching your approach to the level of engagement
  • Know your people—does the person’s passion or situation match the volunteer need?
  • How to keep and support the volunteers you get
    • Think of getting them as the beginning, not the end!
    • Train them to retain them
    • Keep in touch: What can I do to help you serve and encourage you?
    • Celebrate them—tangible memento in conjunction with a meal
    • Give opportunities to conclude their service
  • How to raise up volunteers
    • Leadership pathway for future leaders
      • like a “farm” league
      • women’s and men’s small groups
      • once per month for ten months: conversation, books, prayerfully leadership might lead
    • Getting to know them well during this experience
  • Serving with a Heart like Jesus book
    • Who, what, where, how, and why Jesus served
    • Encouragement: giving thanks for and celebrating volunteers
    • A mix of people who serve: known and unknown, big and small ways, variety of gifts
  • Other thoughts
    • When it’s a good fit and a Spirit-led situation, it works!
    • Scripture—what does service look like biblically?
    • Ask other ministries—share wisdom and best practices






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