Volunteer Welcoming Culture in 7 Simple Steps

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Culture is important.  The culture of your ministry will either attract or deter potential volunteers.  Your goal is to make your ministry a place where volunteers want to spend time.  A place they look forward to serving.  A place that is fun, and most of all welcoming.

How do you create a volunteer welcoming Culture?

Make time for your volunteers:  One benefit of serving in the children’s ministry is access to the children’s pastor.  Some people will serve just so they can talk to you and become your friend.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Build enough margin into your ministry to have time for small talk.  Don’t get so busy that you are always rushing through the halls and never have time to stop for a moment and talk.

Learn your volunteers names:  I know this sounds like a no brainer, right?  But this can really be a sticking point to most volunteers.  Learning your volunteers names shows them that you value them as more then just a slot filler.  Call them by name every time you see them.  Just be sure you call them by the right name!

Thank every volunteer every time they serve:  Make it your goal to stop by every class and thank every volunteer for serving.  If your ministry is too large for this, have a system where you and others make a point to greet and thank every volunteer that is serving every week.  Don’t allow their volunteer position to turn into a thankless job.  Greet them with a smile and say, “Thank you for what you do!”

Know whats going on in the lives of your volunteers:   Look for ways to make every volunteer feel special.  Remember the events happening in their lives.  When you see them, say things like:

  • Happy Birthday!
  • How is your husbands new job?
  • Did your moms surgery go well?
  • I hear your son is doing great on his new baseball team!

Make time to interact with your team, to find out how they are doing and what is going on in their lives.   These little conversations will go a long way.

Create a culture of forgiveness:  No one is perfect, sadly that includes you and me.  Everyone of us has goofed up, shown up late, or forgotten a commitment.  When your volunteers make a mistake:

  • Be gracious.
  • Assume the best.
  • Share your own failures.
  • Have a sense of humor.
  • Choose not to take it personally.
  • Move on and don’t hold a grudge.

Make volunteering fun:  Your ministry culture will make or break your volunteer program.  Make sure your volunteers enjoy volunteering.  Create opportunities and plan events for your volunteers to kick back and have fun. Use your creativity to make serving with kids fun.

Don’t just give attention to new or potential volunteers:  You are doing something wrong if someone feels like they are your new best friend one minute, then you don’t even stop to say hi once they have signed on the dotted line.  Unfortunately, I have had to learn this one the hard way.

People in your church are talking about what it’s like to volunteer in your ministry.  They talk about what the leadership is like, whether it’s fun, and if they would recommend it or even plan to continue serving.  The culture you create directly relates to what people are saying.

Creative volunteer recruitment won’t make much difference if once someone starts to serve they don’t like how you run your ministry, or how you treat your volunteers.

  • What do you do to create a volunteer welcoming environment?
  • What things would you add to this list?
  • Which of these 7 tips are you going to use today?

I would love to hear your experience.  Share a comment below.

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About the Author

Andrew VanDerLinden

Andrew is the Executive Pastor at Community Church in Eastern PA.

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