Volunteers are the lifeblood of any great church, because a church with a phenomenal volunteer base, can achieve almost anything in the community. However, on the other side, a church with a weak or un-trained volunteer base, becomes a pain point as more and more resources are wasted due to in-effective volunteer training. So, a few years ago, our team developed a three-step process to help you map out a curriculum for volunteer training called The ABC’s of Training Volunteers. Let’s look at what those three parts are.
A: Articulate the vision
B: Break down the role
C: Confirm the impact.
The book of Exodus tells the story of Moses being told by God to choose two people in the community, Bezalel and Oholiab, to lead the creative ministry of the first church ever. In the text, scripture states verbatim: “and He has given both him and Oholiab… the ability to teach others.”
So the first thing we need to recognize is that you are Bezalel and you are Oholiab, as the leader of the creative elements in your church. You were given a gift to train others in your organization and cast the vision of how creativity can be SALT in your ministry. But sometimes we don’t leverage that ability to teach others because we don’t build a process to teach from. So today, I want to break down a volunteer training process that will help you craft a winning, and successful on-boarding process for any new volunteer, and continue the training process for your current volunteers.
Part 1: Articulate the vision.
A leader without a vision, is like a teacher without a subject. They’re mindless, they’re all over the place and they have no structure or discipline to carry them to their goals. So the first step in great volunteer training is to clearly articulate the vision of your organization or ministry.
If your church is a “seeker-friendly” focus, or it’s “discipleship based”, make sure to articulate how that supports serving in the church. In my opinion, this is a great time to share some of the thoughts I shared on the #SALT17tour about serving:
“People don’t serve to execute the needs of a service, they serve so they can become more like Jesus.”
Here are a few things that can help you articulate the vision of your volunteer program or ministry well:
- What is the “purpose” of your Church?
- What are the core/guiding principles that your church operates by?
- What do you hope a first time guest feels when they enter?
- What do you want to do to support the regular growth of a member?
- How do you want to react in the event of an emergency?
- Why do you have volunteers?
- What is the main reason (insert your ministry name here) exists in the church?
Part 2: Break down the role
Now that you’ve cast vision, odds are good that the people in your organization have a burning desire to contribute to that vision! Which means they’re less likely to get bored when you spend a few hours, or weeks trying to show them the “process” of their volunteering. A volunteer that learns the process before they know their purpose, is a volunteer who feels like another cog in the wheel of weekend services, rather than a critical part of discipleship.
During this phase, break down the role of this volunteer to the most basic of steps. Don’t be afraid of it becoming too long of a step-by-step, because the clearer you are able to break down this role, the easier it will be for someone to come in and knock it out of the park with little to no preparation.
Volunteers don’t have the ability to just step in and be fully invested. They’re a volunteer, so the preparation y0u are able to make, will help them be successful, and increase their ownership of their role.
Here are a few examples of what you can do to breakdown the role:
How do they turn on the computer?
What is the username and password to log in?
Are there specific fonts to use, fonts to avoid?
How many lines of text should they have or not have?
When do they trigger the next slide?
How often should they change the background?
What do they do if something breaks?
How do they fix that?
What songs do you expect musicans to always know?
Where do they get the music or resources to learn new s0ngs?
What do they need to do before rehearsal?
What is the expectation for rehearsal?
Do they need to print the music before service? or will it be provided?
Are there hand signals that a musician needs to know from the worship leader?
Will there be an expectation to pray or say anything as a worship leader?
Does anyone need to attend any additional practices, meetings or prayer gatherings?
Is there a specific process for turning on and off the sound system?
How are cabled wrapped?
Where do they put the cables after service?
What is the process to prepare for a rehearsal?
Is there anything they are expected to do after service to clean up the stage?
What meetings, rehearsals or prayer gatherings do they need to be at?
Can they have drinks near a console?
You get the sense of how detailed these processes need to be. Dave Ramsey and his team break down the to-do list of their live events to over 400 individual to-do’s. They realize that the better the tasks can be broken down, the more bite-size the process becomes. And the more bite-size a role is, the more trainable the role is.
Related Article: 6 Volunteer Invitation Ideas
Part 3: Confirm their impact
We never want to leave a volunteer with the training that ends with process. Because the vision we talked about on the front end means they can’t just be a process, they are part of the purpose of this church. During this final stage of volunteer training, it’s imperative to reiterate the “why” of your church; the why of volunteering.
One thing I want you to spend time contemplating in this stage of the training process, is to confirm the specific impact that they will make by serving in this position. In other words, if they don’t operate in their giftedness within this role, what will the ultimate impact on the community be? Will people not be able to see the pastor? will they not be able to hear the worship? Will they not be able to participate in worship and connect with their Heavenly Father?
This is an opportunity to confirm their impact, and deepen they’re appreciation for the organization at large. If you can help guide their purpose as a volunteer, their purpose will direct their process. A process that will become the driving force for fulfilling your God-given mission.
Great confirmation is taking the vision you’ve articulated and making it practical to them, not just organizational theory.
There you have it, the ABC’s of volunteer training. If you want to figure out a way to automate the training of your volunteers, I’d highly recommend taking a look at one of the free resources our team has put together on these core principles. You’ll find out how to leverage SALT University, and MailChimp to create an automated and regular training process that can implement the principles we’ve talked about in this post.
Regardless, I hope that these three processes can help bring clarity and effectiveness in your volunteer environment.