Volunteers not wanting to serve during this time? We get it.
Because of the times that we find ourselves in as the Church, it’s completely natural that volunteers of all ages may be a little hesitant to come back and serve. And while we want to respect their decisions and not push them to do something that they’re physically uncomfortable with, as spiritual leaders, we ultimately know that life is better in community, and we want them to experience the joy and relationship that comes with being back in the church building!
But how do we do this effectively? How do we begin to re-engage our volunteers in a safe and meaningful way without making them feel pressured to serve when they aren’t ready?
Why Do I Want People Re-Engaged?
Before we get to the “how,” we must figure out the “why.” First and foremost, we must discuss the basis of our desire to re-engage volunteers. Our willingness to re-engage leaders should not come from the following:
The desire to build numbers on a report
The desire to make the serve easier on us as staff members
The desire to make ourselves feel more successful because we have a “bigger” team
Our desire to re-engage volunteers must come from a deep value for each individual and a genuine aspiration to help them experience the quality of life and purpose that God intended for them.
If we want to re-engage our volunteers, it can easily be done in a way that they may not even notice - we make them feel appreciated by focusing more on who they are, not what they do.
After all, people don’t care what we know until they know that we care, and by implementing a few of the ideas below, we believe that your church will find some success in re-engaging the volunteers that you dearly love and miss through showing them how much they mean to you.
3 Ways to Re-Engage Your Volunteers
These three practices of appreciation have worked well with the Highlands team, but we encourage you to use these in whatever way you see fit to identify avenues of appreciation that work best for your church and congregation.
1. Invest time.
It may sound elementary, but the first thing we encourage you to do when re-engaging your volunteers is to invest time in them. This could look many different ways, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
• Host a Team Gathering
Whether in-person or over a platform like Zoom, we encourage you to host a gathering for your team where the sole purpose is to celebrate them. Laugh a lot, have some good food (if able), and create an environment for genuine connection to take place among your volunteers. This may take some time out of your calendar or potentially add more to your already-packed week, but trust us - it will be worth it!
At Highlands, these gatherings look like Dream Team Parties or Community Nights - all of which are designed to celebrate the volunteer team as a whole. For more information on these events, check out the Dream Team Party Elements on Grow Online!
• Write Notes
As simple as it is, a hand-written note can go a long way! In a world where everything is so technological, having something tangible will mean the world to someone. Even though it’ll take a bit longer to write a letter instead of a text or email, we encourage you to hand-write and send notes to the people that haven’t served at your church in a while. These can be done through Birthday cards, Thank You notes, or anything in between!
2. Invest knowledge.
The second thing we encourage you to do is to invest knowledge into your volunteers. Giving them insight and training will help them feel more equipped and confident to pick up where they left off!
• Share Vision
When there is vision or special information that you want to share with your congregation, we encourage you to share this information with your volunteers first. This will help them feel like they have an integral part to play in making this vision a reality, and it will give them a sense of ownership and responsibility for their area of ministry.
• Equip and Train
Whether it’s one of your staff members or an outside source, we encourage you to provide specialized training for your volunteers at least once a year. No matter what the training topic is, hosting one shows your volunteers that you want to invest in them and help them become the best Dream Teamer they can be. Again - this is a time to invest in who they are, which will ultimately impact what they do.
At Highlands, the Senior Pastor usually shares vision with and trains the Dream Team exclusively at a yearly event called Team Night. If you’d like to find more information on Team Night or want some resources to help implement one of your own, check out the resources below:
3. Invest resources.
Last but not least, we encourage you to invest resources into your volunteer base. While this could range from big gatherings and expenses to small acts of kindness, we highly suggest setting aside a part of your budget to monetarily invest in the people that give so much to the church. After all, each Dream Teamer is a salary you’re saving, so we encourage you to use a percentage of what they give to give back to them!
• Provide a Dream Team Central
Dream Team Central is a volunteer headquarters that Highlands provides every Sunday morning for their volunteers. There is plenty of food, water, coffee, and places in Dream Team Central to relax and get ready for a serve. This space also serves as a way for people to connect with other members of the Dream Team that they may not know, ultimately resulting in an overall sense of community throughout the church! While your Dream Team Central may look different, we encourage you to create a physical space at your church where your volunteers can relax, refresh, and connect during their Sunday serve!
• Give Generous Gifts
Large or small, gifts mean a lot to people! Whether it’s through gift cards, special t-shirts, or hosting your own “Awards Show,” there are numerous ways to give someone a tangible token of your appreciation for them!
Overall, when we show appreciation to our volunteers, they are more likely to re-engage with us and begin serving. While these practices have worked well for the Highlands team, we encourage you to find what works best for you and use these ideas as the foundation for establishing a culture of appreciation at your church!
Through showing appreciation, our teams will feel loved, valued, and encouraged to begin serving again on the front lines of our ministries!