Over the last 5 years of consulting I’ve been surprised by the number of churches that don’t have regular, all-in, volunteer meetings.
A second surprise is to see how many churches run these meetings like a Sunday service.
Regular volunteer meetings are essential if you want to grow a healthy church.
Neglect this core part of your church and your ministry and operations will suffer accordingly.
Although it can be difficult assembling all your leaders and volunteers in one place, at one time, this meeting will become one of your favourite meetings as you gather together your co-labourers in Christ.
6 Top Shelf Reasons to Run Regular Volunteer Meetings
#1 You get to thank and celebrate them in front of their peers.
#2 Customised training takes place.
#3 The atmosphere is invigorating when you gather like-minded people.
#4 Your leadership team are encouraged by the strong commitment of others to Christ.
#5 Talking to this group is truly ‘preaching to the choir.’ They are the core who are labouring with you for Kingdom advancement.
#6 You refresh vision and clarify strategy as people get on the same page, again.
8 Fail Safe Steps To Improved Volunteer Meetings
Here are excellent ideas for volunteer meetings that will have them coming back for more.
1. Vision Refill
Reinforcing and casting vision is an essential element of any volunteers’ meeting.
You can either weave the vision connection points through the meeting or lead a standalone vision casting segment.
Vision casting also flows easily with the good news stories as they have already amplified vison fulfilment.
Either way never let an opportunity pass to recast vision to your leaders and volunteers. As Steven Furtick reminds us, the vision never thrives when it’s hidden away.
2. Good Coffee and Delicious Food
People connect over coffee.
Food brings people together.
When you incorporate a time for drinking and eating into the volunteer meetings you are giving space and time for people to build relationships.
It adds life, buzz and informality to your gathering. Especially if people are welcomed by the smell of coffee and tasty treats as they arrive.
Catering Tip # 1 people expect to drink coffee from a china or cardboard cup so ban the old polystyrene cups from your church.
Catering Tip # 2 remove all instant coffee from your premises. Go with a coffee urn or a pod machine and crank out good coffee for your volunteers.
3. Good News
People need uplifting stories.
Volunteers are working on the front lines of engagement with people and need to know your church is making an impact for Christ and His Kingdom.
Your church is full of good news stories so hunt them down and fill your volunteer meetings with these gems.
At times this is best done in an interview format where an experienced platform person helps a volunteer share all the good news they have in a story.
However, if you don’t use the interview format and the volunteer leaves out key parts of the story then switch to interview mode when they are finished to ensure everyone benefits from the entire story.
The best time to have this segment is at the beginning of your meeting. It will encourage, inform and boost your volunteers.
What Type of Stories?
Vision fulfilment – when vision is lived out
Project achievement – when your church successfully completes a major project
Love – when people are loved by your church
Hope – stories that fuel confidence
Spiritual – stories that honour Christ will build the church
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4. Customised Training
An essential element of a volunteers’ meeting is the training of volunteers.
While it can be tempting to turn your volunteer meetings into a preaching opportunity you should resist this temptation.
Instead train your volunteers in two specific areas, namely skills and attitudes.
While attitudinal training is generic, skills training must be customized to your volunteers’ needs. As Andy Stanley notes, people learn quicker when they are being trained in an area that interests them.
For instance, team members need skills training customised to their particular area of ministry whether it be vocals or working with children or welcoming new people.
On the other hand, team leaders need training in how to motivate people, organise rosters and build team morale.
Department leaders need different training again.
They need to grow expertise in solving complex problems, developing process leadership skills and handling numerous pressures at the same time.
Therefore, adapt your training to suit the needs of different leaders.
Attitudinal training is generic across all levels of leadership.
Train your people how to develop outstanding attitudes, right thinking and spiritual maturity as they face the various obstacles and opportunities in serving Christ and His church.
Train them in humility, kindness, faithfulness, optimism, hospitality, discipline, love, integrity and dedication.
All volunteers need training in how to develop these pivotal aspects of godly character and Christ like attitudes.
5. Give Chocolates and Flowers
We all love to cheer our team when they have done well.
Likewise, volunteers love cheering for their co-labourers when their achievements are publicly acknowledged.
Therefore, at your volunteer meetings hand out some awards for identifiable things people have done.
Here are a few tips to ensure this works for you:
Reward a specific skill, attitude, achievement or vision fulfilment
Avoid accusations of bias or overlooking individuals by keeping a record of the awards
Endeavour to get a good mix of age, gender and department each and every time
Keep the awards simple. Either chocolates, flowers, handwritten thank you notes or vouchers
Make sure you give every volunteer an award over a 24-month period
6. Insider Information
We all love to be in the know.
We want to be on the inside and hear what’s happening from the ‘horse’s mouth’.
This thirst for insider knowledge is part of being human and helps us engage with our tribe. Leaders understand that belonging increases as knowledge increases.
Therefore, bring your volunteers into your circle of confidentiality by sharing information that you would not generally share during a weekend service.
This may be about exciting opportunities that are being explored, pressures the church is facing or detailed information about a certain project.
Sharing insider information not only informs, it honours your volunteer’s hard work.
They are working harder than anyone else to build the church and advance the Kingdom and cause of Christ. When you include them they will feel honoured.
When you trust them with confidential or detailed information you will also increase the bond of trust and connection between yourself and them. Thus belonging and engagement will rise.
This element is especially important whenever you are leading major change.
A key part of your change process should be the sharing of essential information with your key leaders and volunteers before you tell the general congregation.
They in turn can help other members process the change as they will often have more information at hand and will have had an opportunity to think it through before the general church announcement.
7. A Current Word
There may be a particular theme or word in season that the Holy Spirit is bringing to your church.
When you meet with your volunteers it gives you a valuable opportunity to reinforce the current emphasis in your church.
At the meeting you can amplify this theme or word, giving it appropriate weight and challenging your leaders to rise to a place of obedience and alignment.
Throughout the book of Acts we see leaders gathering to pray together.
Whenever you have a volunteers’ meeting incorporate a time of prayer in the gathering.
You can pray for different departments, current projects, upcoming events, church finances, more volunteers, your movement’s leaders and so on.
Also, it is an excellent idea to utilise the prayer time to pray for your volunteers. Break your meeting up into small groups of 3 or 4 and get them to pray for each other.
Be creative with this segment and expect Christ to minister to His workers. As Phil Pringle says, the church without prayer is Samson without hair.
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