The following article was translated from an article from Thom S. Rainer, a Christian growth strategist called Six Terrible Ways to Recruit Ministry Volunteers in Your Church.
The following are examples of what NOT to do:
- Make a general announcement that you need someone: You will likely get the folks who already do too much, or folks who have no skills in the area where you need the help.
- Wait until the last minute: When folks are asked without proper lead-time, it makes the project seem unimportant. Your volunteers can feel overwhelmed, undervalued, or even feel like asking them was an afterthought. We want to show how we value the work and the volunteers.
- Ignore unique gifts and abilities: People have different schedules, skills, and interests. If someone is put in a position that doesn’t work for who they are, no one wins. Your volunteer might quit because they can’t actually follow through or they might just do a terrible job.
- Pour on the guilt: Doing the work of our faith can bring people fulfillment and joy! But if they are only doing it because they felt guilty about turning you down, they will likely feel angry, frustrated, and burned-out.
- Don’t follow up: Not checking in later can make it seem like you were just filling spots on chore chart. Mark your calendar to check in after the first month, and then again at three and six months. Ask how they are doing and what they need? Your volunteers will feel so appreciated and valued!
- Forget the spiritual: As religious leaders, we don’t want to leave out the spiritual discernment involved with filling our volunteer positions. Take some time to pray or meditate about your people and your programs. It can really help you with clarity.
The Rev. Sarah Schurr serves the Pacific Western Region of the UUA as Congregational Life Staff. Sarah has years of experience working with small congregations who rely heavily on volunteers. In addition to her small church expertise, she works closely with ministerial transitions in the region.