Training timeliness: Volunteer edition

Since we’re talking about timeliness, I figured I’d breach this topic since we’re all thinking it. So, how do you get your volunteers to show up on time? No really, how do you get your volunteers to show up on time? Every church I’ve been at I’ve experienced difficulty in this area. We’d have volunteers show up just minutes before the kids… or sometimes several minutes after the kids. It frustrates the staff and key/committed volunteers like crazy. So, how do you get them there on time? This is an issue that I think has a deeper root. It’s actually something that I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about, especially in my role here at Gateway. I don’t think the real question is “how do I get my volunteers to show up on time?” I think the real question is, “why don’t my volunteers truly value their role in the children’s ministry?” Honestly, I believe that we show up on time for the things that we value. Even for me, getting to the movies on time to see the previews is a value. So I’m there on time. Yes, I think it’s inconsiderate that volunteers show up 10 minutes late when they’ve committed to being there on time. However, I’m not convinced that they are the ones to blame. No, really! I think the solution lies with...

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A new pet peeve

Okay, I just came across a new pet peeve of mine. I was hanging out in the check-in area on Sunday and it was about 15 minutes after the service started and I mentioned something about shutting down check-in. Someone responded that it was too early and people here are on Gateway time. That was the second time I heard that since I’ve been here. The last time was a few weeks ago. I was sitting in morph (a new discipleship program) and the speaker said something about only having a handful of registrations a week before, but now there were more than 60 people participating. He said something about this being the Gateway Way. All this sounded familiar. However, I put 2 and 2 together today. I got an email from a previous co-worker at Cross Timbers. She was talking about how registrations come in slow and at the last minute. She said, “You know how it is on CT time.” You know what?I think I can even remember back to my first full time position at a church in IN. I seem to remember talking about how people arrive at the last minute or sign up for stuff late. So, this is my pet peeve. Based on my past experience, people are late and like to wait until the last minute. Sure, not everyone is like this,...

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Summer Serve

I’m throwing this one out to my readers. I want to find out what you do. When coming to a new church you usually inherit a lot of stuff. You also inherit volunteer schedules and routines. At Gateway I inherited one things I really like and one thing I don’t like too much. First of all, a majority of our volunteers serve every week. That’s just awesome. The thing I don’t like so much is that traditionally a large number of these volunteers would take the summer months off and a recruiting push would be done in May called “Summer Serve.” The idea was that a new team is recruited to serve for the summer while most of the regulars took time off. The advantage was that many of those who signed up for Summer Serve would stick with it into the next year. The disadvantage, you’ve got a whole new team to train and enlist in ministry. Have any of your guys experienced this? I can tell you that I don’t love it. I’m all for giving my volunteers some time off. I’ll give them time off whenever they need it. However, I don’t see letting all my team off for 2-3 months all at the same time. I understand the “why,” but I don’t love it. So, this Spring we didn’t do it… kinda. Well, I actually...

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The Holy Ghost and me

A few weeks ago my blogging friend Sam wrote a very intriguing post here. I was disappointed that there were only two comments… both of them mine. However, I’m pretty sure I know why no one had much to say. I think it’s rare for us to link the Holy Spirit and recruiting together. It kind of was for me too. A few weeks ago I finished writing an article on the Holy Spirit’s role in recruiting. Writing this article was amazingly refreshing and a great reminder of the things I often forget or neglect. Here’s all I can say. They Holy Spirit wants to help and we need to remember to let him. He proved it to me in a beautiful bit of confirmation that I’d love to tell you about. I finished writing this article just before the weekend… about letting the Holy Spirit help in your recruitment process. After service that Sunday, my wife came up to me and said, “Remind me to tell you about the person I saw in the garage (our coffee/bookstore) today.” It wasn’t until later that night that I remembered to ask. She then went on to tell me about someone she saw earlier that day. There was this man who came up to the husband of my Early Childhood Director. He seemed very outgoing and fun. More importantly, he really...

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SATURATE

I mentioned yesterday that we’re recruiting volunteers and developing leaders for the fall promotion on August 24th. We actually did a push from the stage yesterday, but we’re looking for way more volunteers than we can get from that. I’ve been talking to my staff about how we can “saturate” the vision in as many venues as possible. Here are some of the ways we’re going to (or hoping to) get the word out among our church. Parent Communication: It’s fairly common for me to send out an email to all the parents who’s kids attend regularly. Next week I’ll be sending out an email to inform them of all the events and activities coming up this summer. In that email I’ll mention some serving opportunities they can take advantage of. Parent Meeting: So much is changing in the fall, so we’re hosting a parent meeting. Actually, we’re hosting 4 of them around two different weekends. We’ll be talking about what the ministry will look like next year. Since I’ll have so many parents face to face, I’ll share a little vision for joining a serving team. Men’s Ministry: I’m hoping to speak at a men’s breakfast or gathering over the summer. What better way for men to impact the next generation of men by leading a small group of boys? Oh yeah! Singles Ministry: Gateway has a lot...

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Yes, I did it and I’m not going to apologize!

Last Sunday (yeah, I said last Sunday… I’m behind and catching up) I stood on stage and recruited new volunteers. GASP! Yeah, I know. It is something I speak against, but I’m not going to apologize. Actually, it was my first opportunity to be introduced to my church. Two weeks earlier it was announced that the previous Children’s Pastor had resigned and would be moving to Colorado in two weeks. A lot of people thought that I was his replacement. So, it was a good opportunity for me to introduce myself and explain my new role. Second, I had the opportunity to share a little vision. On August 24th we’re promoting for the next year and also launching over 30 small groups in our elementary program The relational element has been missing here and is certainly a felt need. So, I got to share how we’re launching small groups and how our passion is that every child be connected relationally to a small group of peers and an adult leaders. Last of all, I told people that now is the best time of all to join the CM team. There was a piece in the program that they could fill out and drop in the offering or they could come and meet me in person after the services. We had a good response and about half of those who...

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Do they love it?

I met with my Kids staff today. We had a very interesting discussion on volunteer recruiting. Interestingly enough, the discussion we had was very similar to what Pudge blogged today. We were talking about the methods we’ll be recruiting new volunteers over the summer. We’ve got several plans in the oven as we plan to saturate people with the opportunity to plug in. One of my staff then asked about how we get our existing volunteers to recruit for us. Her thought was that if they are currently serving, they would be the best recruiters. Although we have many volunteers and leaders who LOVE serving in Kids Quest, few volunteers recruit help. We discussed it further and there is a need for training and equipping volunteers who love the ministry to recruit more help. However, I had a few thoughts. First of all, I’ve talked with my staff from two other churches about getting volunteers to recruit other volunteers. We’ve even talked about great contests where the volunteer who recruited the most would win a big prize. However, I’ve never been anywhere where volunteers were a strong recruiting force. I went on to tell my staff. When I got to a restaurant that I love, I tell a lot of people. When I see a great movie, I tell a lot of people. When I get a new product/gadget...

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Clarification: Opportunity of a lifetime

Last week I read an incredible post from the Access: Elevation blog. It concerned how you communicate available volunteer positions to potential volunteers. Again, it’s one of those “don’t communicate the need, communicate the vision” ideas. However, Larry Brey communicated perfectly how serving is the opportunity of a lifetime. It’s a personal invite to participate in the single most powerful movement and organization in the world. The Church! Bravo, it’s a great post that many can take and adapt to their volunteer/recruiting process. However… There is something I need to clarify. Something that appears to be missing. Yes, I think it would be incredible if we communicated this message to potential volunteers. Yes, I believe that serving in the church (especially in the kids ministry) 🙂 IS an opportunity of a lifetime. BUT, (listen closely) too often we don’t treat it that way. It’s easy to communicate how important the job is and how great an opportunity it is, but after we fill that spot we sometimes check that one off the list, move on to the next one and neglect the person who just bought what we were selling! If we truly believe that serving in the church is the opportunity of a lifetime, then we’ll treat every position with total respect. We’ll clearly communicate to our new volunteer. We’ll adequately train our new volunteer. We’ll walk beside...

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A HUGE favor: Helping someone discover their passion

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been hearing some interesting stories from some of the men who serve in the Children’s Ministry here at Gateway Church. One guy told me about how he and his wife responded to a plea for help in the Children’s Ministry. One day the Children’s Pastor turned to him and said, “I think you’d be perfect to operate and voice the Elmer puppet (our preschool character).” Now this guy is incredibly passionate about “being” Elmer and is also overseeing a dad’s group. Another guy started volunteering in the classroom where his daughter attended. At that point in time, he was an agnostic. Now he’s one of the lead teachers (no, he’s not an agnostic anymore). He wears a cape to work with the kids. Why? Because he’s passionate about being a hero to these kids. I observed (I haven’t met him yet) another guy who is the host of our Preschool Elmer’s Clubhouse (he’s the emcee). He’s one of the best I’ve seen. I asked about how they found him. I was then told that his wife dragged him into it. She wanted to serve and didn’t want to do it by herself. One day someone handed him the microphone and he hasn’t given it back yet. There are many more stories just like these, I just haven’t discovered them all yet. I’ve...

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Orange 2008: Synchronizing Volunteers

This session was led by Craig Jutila. Someone said that most of this information is in his book “Daze to Knights.” I knew he had this book, but I didn’t think this was about volunteers. I’ve heard Craig on several occasions and I’ve heard most of this stuff before. However, it is good stuff and I really needed to hear it again. Volunteerism is one of the biggest issues in ministry, so everyone could hear this stuff multiple times. First things: You don’t organize people, you align them You build people first and programs second You understand that without people, you do not nor can you have a healthy ministry Without a mission statement, you will never thrive with your volunteers We are all made differently One of the problems we have is that we often try to make everyone do the same about of work. People are different. Our goal should be to help them reach their potential. Craig talked about the 80/20 rule. 20% of your volunteers are doing 80% of the work. It’s a principle… expect this. Those 20% are your high impact volunteers. Of 100% of your volunteers, here is how they might break down: 5% – Influential: Empower 15% – Initiator: Energize 30% – Independent: Equip 50% – Industrious: Encourage Craig then talked about how Jesus led “volunteers.” 1 Corinthians 15:6 – Jesus appeared...

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