Some of our volunteer roles aren’t always fun: parking team volunteers brave the rain, heat, and grumpy drivers; production team volunteers arrive before sunrise for sound check; family ministry volunteers change diapers and sweep up spilled Cheerios. So how do we manage to get 15,000 people to share their Sunday mornings with us as volunteers? Here are three of our secrets.
1. Cast Vision with the Sermon
Every year, Andy uses one Sunday message to cast a compelling vision for volunteering. This isn’t a guilt trip. It isn’t bended-knee begging. It’s an invitation for folks in our rows to play a part in what God’s up to in our church. And it connects even the less glamorous volunteer roles with the important mission of creating a church that unchurched people and kids will love. Volunteering to wipe runny noses and sing silly songs is much more appealing when it’s part of teaching toddlers that God loves them, not just “staffing the nursery.”
Delivering this big picture message to the entire congregation attracts new volunteers, but also serves the bonus purpose of regularly reminding current volunteers of the value of their work. We pair this message with a sign up form in the bulletin, so that taking a next step is as clear and easy as possible.
See past examples of Andy’s messages about serving in our Casting Vision for Serving Basic Sermon Kit.
2. Tell Stories through Video
If you’ve ever read an Amazon product review, you know that personal testimonials are powerful. We tell our volunteers’ personal stories through video.
It requires time, energy, and money to create a video like the one telling Tom’s story. But it communicates so much more than an announcement or even a whole sermon ever could. We play these videos before and/or during services and pair them with a public thank you from stage for the volunteers who serve each week.
3. Continuously Recruit through Gratitude
While there is a seasonal rhythm to our recruitment (sign ups in spring, orientation and training in summer, kick-off in fall), we work year-round to make sure our volunteers feel appreciated. See this list of “100 Almost Free Ways to Appreciate Volunteers” for some of the ways we do this.
Happy volunteers who love serving often attract new volunteers for us—like spouses, roommates, or friends. But just as importantly, these volunteers stick with their role for the long-term. In fact, we ask many of our family ministry volunteers to make a multi-year commitment so they can invest in students through an entire season of life. For us, retaining volunteers lightens the burden of recruitment, as we’re not starting from scratch each spring.
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