For a period of seven years, I was extremely proud to be a firefighter at our local volunteer fire department. Most people are aware of the incredible risks, hazards, and life threatening circumstances firefighters face every day. Yet, we had 60 men actively serving along with a lengthy waiting list. We had more volunteers than we needed. Keep in mind — this is volunteer – no one, including our chief, was getting paid. We gave many hours each week running calls but also just as many in training. After analyzing the success of this volunteer organization I saw four principles that apply in our church ministries as well. I will be touching on one of each of these over the next few weeks. They are…
- Volunteers will consider helping if the need is made known.
- Volunteers are motivated when the vision is clear and impactful.
- Volunteers are encouraged if training is provided.
- Volunteers stick around if their service is appreciated.
One of the greatest mistakes that can be made in ministry is expecting yourself to handle and accomplish each and every responsibility that comes you way. This may work for a time but will ultimately lead down the path toward burnout. Burnout serves no one and negatively impacts your calling. Realizing the need for support is one thing…finding and acquiring that support is another.
Before I begin, it’s important to address a falsehood about recruiting. For many, the task of recruiting can be intimidating. No one wants to be “that guy” who begs and pleads for help. It’s easy to feel like you’re encroaching upon people’s lives or that they’ll think you’re not doing your job. The truth is that this falsehood will rob people of important ministry moments and service opportunities for the church. We take away a great opportunity for learning, growth, and connectedness to a fellowship.
If you missed Part 1: Making the Need Known, you can find it here.
If you missed Part 2: Clear and Impactful Vision, you can find it here.
This week I will be addressing the principle: Volunteers are encouraged if training is provided.
It was not uncommon for firefighters to be dismissed from their duties based on their lack of availability to train. The dedication to training was actually more required than to show up for our actual fire calls. Our training schedule was continual and in-depth. Confidence as a firefighter was gained through repetitive drills, walkthroughs and classes. And again, keep in mind – it was volunteer.
Of all the areas that keep people from stepping up into a volunteer position is the lack of knowledge regarding the task. People are naturally drawn to things they feel somewhat knowledgeable about and want to feel they are qualified and capable to do the job. Still others may have a general interest in a job but are not about to volunteer unless they know education and training will be provided. This is exactly why it’s important to mention training in all advertisements. Have answers to the following questions on the front end.
- Who will be available to train the volunteer?
- How much and how often will training be needed?
- When will the training take place?
When the training process begins it’s helpful to consider the following methods of training that have proven to be effective:
- Walk each volunteer through their assigned tasks and provide printed instructions.
- Have the volunteer “shadow” or observe someone currently performing the responsibility and let them do so as many times as needed.
- Give ample time for the volunteers to become comfortable in their tasks before setting them free to do it themselves.
- Make sure to double check the work being done for accuracy.
Next up, we’ll talk about the importance of appreciating volunteers. Stay tuned.
Dale Bleam is LifeWay Worship’s Sales Supervisor & Strategist. Or as he says, “Supervisor of the best sales team I’ve ever had the privilege of working with.” With 20+ years in church music sales… he would know! In addition, his other titles include: Dad, Bi-vocational Worship Pastor, Songwriter, Teacher, Volunteer Firefighter, XBOX Champion and Weightlifter. And here’s a fun fact, he listens to his music LOUD. He keeps our hallways filled with joyful sounds. If LifeWay Worship was a radio station, he’d be our DJ.