We have been looking at ways of creating a fulfilling and positive experience for volunteers serving in the church.
As well as team activities there are things that can be done with only a little effort that will make a person feel appreciated. For instance, birthdays provide an annual opportunity to make someone feel special. A card gives the opportunity to express how much that person is appreciated not only for what they do but, even more important, for who they are. It is good to tell people that their lives have a positive effect on others; often people do not realise how others see them and they need commending. You can also add a box of chocolates or flowers to the card.
Another way of showing appreciation is to offer to send a person on some sort of training programme. Training within the church is essential and non-negotiable – all volunteers should be equipped within the areas of service they function in. But it is also of great value for people to go to another context. This provides stimulation, networking opportunities and so on. For example, those who work with people who are poor or in need find great value in attending the annual Jubilee+ conference in the UK. People working in an area of ministry with the poor are often very passionate and somewhat tunnel visioned, so to go to an event where there are other like-minded people can be of great benefit.
There are also various training programmes available through other organisations for training volunteers, whether in the Christian or secular sphere. These could be in the areas of children’s ministry, helping those caught up in the sex industry, worship, event management etc. A little exploration on the internet will reveal many opportunities. It takes some effort but the investment of time will be more than repaid by the benefits resulting form such training opportunities.
In this short series I have sought to show the importance of mobilising volunteers in the life of the church. We have looked at what we mean by ‘volunteers’ and saw how we are in fact all part of God’s army to advance the Kingdom. I have then tried to give some tips on how to motivate and affirm people so that they enjoy the maximum fulfilment and satisfaction from their serving.
Jesus’ final command, the great Commission, was to go into all the world and make disciples (Matt 28:19). Serving in and through the church provides an invaluable vehicle for discipling people by developing their potential, training them in particular skills and strengthening their characters by building such characteristics as loyalty and reliability. May your church achieve great things as you promote a serving environment.