Early in my ministry I reached a point where I was ready to give up. The ministry was growing, new kids were coming, and attendance was up week after week. What a horrible problem, right? The problem was, as kids attendance increased, the number of volunteers quitting increased just as fast.
When you’re adding kids and losing leaders, you have a recipe for disaster. I realized that something needed to change. I needed to learn how to build a team. Through this, I became extremely intentional about adding team members and developing recruiting strategies. You can read about them here.
After becoming intentional about team building, things things got better but, it felt like for every step forward, I would take two steps back. I would introduce a new volunteer and before I knew it someone else would resign. I was still missing something. I was beginning to doubt my abilities, worse yet, I started to doubt my calling. Maybe I was not cut out for ministry.
My problem was I was so focused on adding volunteers that I didn’t give much thought to the ones who were already committed, already trained, already serving in the trenches. I had forgotten the leaders who served week in and week out, the ones who already had my heart and knew the vision and values.
I was investing all my energy identifying, training and releasing new volunteers into the ministry, but once you were on the team, it was almost like I forgot your name. I was missing the most important piece when it comes to team building, appreciation.
I learned that the most important thing that I could do for my ministry was to invest in and retain the volunteers I already had. This revelation saved my ministry. For me, one existing volunteer who is trained and serving is worth two, possibly three new volunteers. I sat down with a legal pad and identified 7 ways I that I could appreciate my volunteers, and made this a part of my team building strategy.
By creating a culture of appreciation, I was able to retain more volunteers. I was able to begin adding new volunteers and make forward progress with my team building.
My favorite appreciation event followed a week long kid’s crusade. My leaders worked every night of the week in addition to their day jobs. I called the local steak house and negotiated a special menu for my group. I was able to take nearly 50 volunteers to a steak dinner for just over $500. It was the most fun our team ever had together. We laughed, we reminisced, we just flat out had fun.
Set a goal to be the department in your church that sets the standard for appreciating volunteers. Make your level of appreciation something that people in your church talk about. If you do this you will never have a shortage of volunteers.
What do you do to appreciate your volunteers? Join the discussion by leaving a comment or go over to https://www.facebook.com/organizedkidmin.