Getting volunteers is one thing; keeping them is another!
If ministry leaders want to keep volunteers engaged in service, they should consider the advice of Dobie Houson and Jim Diehl in their article “5 Warning Signs You’re Losing Your People”. This article from Chief Learning Officer—a publication designed for corporate human resources professionals—has useful application for church leaders. Of their six suggestions, four speak directly to equipping volunteers.
Consider these four retention strategies:
- Increase task variety. Routine gets boring, and boring means volunteers step down. So spice things up a bit and add some variety to the tasks your volunteers perform. This may mean cross-training in other duties or coming up with special themed service days like having all your greeters wear Hawaiian shirts or your Sunday school teachers in superhero capes!
- Provide meaningful work. No one wants to do busy work. Communicate the church mission to every person in every position in the church. Volunteers need to see themselves tied to the greater good, rather than just the task they perform.
- Increase autonomy. Jesus recruited his small group of followers and then released them to change the world. Allow volunteers flexibility in how they accomplish their work. Their unique gifting may unfold in a direction that takes their efforts to a greater outcome. Effective church leaders avoid volunteer micromanagement.
- Encourage connections. Foster the development of biblical community and support. Volunteers will walk away from a task sooner than a friendship. Help your ministry teams build relationships that last. “The more connected individuals are to their colleagues, the more likely they are to expend extra energy on behalf of the organization,” Houson and Diehl report.
Try these culture-changing strategies with your volunteers and start increasing the number of people involved in serving at your church.