August is a great month to schedule volunteer orientation to help everyone understand their new ministry roles so they can be prepared this fall. A volunteer handbook can be useful for providing the information you want each person to know.
Handbooks offer a broad range of information and can include everything from where to park your car to more serious issues like confidentiality or sexual misconduct. A handbook also allows church leadership the opportunity to think through policies and procedures to keep ministry safe.
A good handbook will provide this information:
- Mission and Vision—Include a mission statement of your ministry as a way to cast vision to all who come on board to serve in this area. Have it speak to the greater mission and purpose of your church so volunteers see how their position contributes to the overall ministry.
- Reporting Structure—A basic organizational chart will help volunteers see how the whole team works together. You’ll also want to provide specific information on who the volunteer reports to, as well as the chain of supervision and accountability.
- Standards of Conduct—Don’t want to see your Sunday school teachers wearing short shorts and flip-flops? State the expectations for dress code, hygiene, and modesty. Behavior standards such as alcohol and tobacco use, gossip, profanity, and confidentiality should also be addressed.
- Safety Information—Would your teachers know what to do if a tornado warning sounds while they’re in a classroom with kids? Spell out procedures for evacuation plans, severe weather, first-aid locations, and what to do if someone is injured. This is also the place where you can spell out specific child safety standards for adults, which may include discipline, physical touch, bathroom breaks, diaper changing, or any other actions where a clear line needs to be drawn. Also state upfront which positions require a criminal background check.
- Attendance—Are your teachers supposed to call you on Saturday night—at 10 p.m.—if they’re going to be absent the next morning? Include information on what to do if they are unable to perform their duties, arrive late, or need to resign.
- Training and Evaluation—Do you offer training opportunities? Often ministry leaders are disappointed when their volunteers don’t attend scheduled meetings. Make sure this expectation is part of the ministry description and handbook. If you have a process for evaluating performance and providing feedback, make this clear as well.
With handbook in hand, you’re off to a great start this fall!
– – Taken from a recent Shepherd’s Watch newsletter. Sign up today for Shepherd’s Watch Background Checks and receive your free monthly newsletter filled with advice and tips on keeping your church safe.
(We love to provide tips to keep your ministry safe. You may also want to consult your local legal advisors to get their perspective on this topic!)