What to Do When Your Volunteers Don't Want to Come Back Because of the Pandemic

As we continue to search for a vaccine and cure for the Corona Virus, many people are still hesitant to go out and mingle with others.  And rightfully so.

The virus is reshaping the daily routines of millions of Americans. 

It is also causing many churches and other non-profits to struggle with a lack of volunteers.  This could impact crucial service for the most vulnerable people.

I have been listening to what church leaders are saying as they work through opening their physical campuses back up.

They are asking some great questions.  One of the questions is "What will we do when older volunteers are hesitant to come back to serve - because of the virus?"  Many of the older volunteers are saying they will not be back to serve until there is a vaccine available to cure the fast spreading virus.

This can really have an impact on children's ministries because in many ministries we depend on Boomers to serve and fill key roles.

Here are some key points that can help you navigate what to do when your older volunteers are hesitant to serve during this time.

People come first.  Older adults are more likely to have serious health issues when they catch the virus.  With the virus reshaping the daily routines of millions of Americans, many nonprofits are struggling with those age 65 or older,” says Dr. Natasha Bhuyan, a family physician in Phoenix, Arizona.

“The reason why is because our immune system is less effective at fighting infections as we get older. Also, having multiple other chronic diseases can complicate this virus.”
This means we should put our senior adults first.  Especially those who already have an underlying
condition.  Don't place your senior adults in serving situations where they are likely to catch the virus or spread the virus.

"Use the ministry to build people, not the people to build the ministry,"

The quote above should be often considered.  Don't bring risk to senior adults just because you have some vacant volunteer roles open.   There may be other roles they can fill for the time being that don't require contact with people.

Enlist new volunteers.  This is a great opportunity to share the vision of your ministry and how people can make a difference in the lives of other people.  People are tuned in to helping other people in this season. Remember to emphasize the "why" of the ministry.  You can get many more great ideas for building a volunteer team in my book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams."   It's available at this link.

Realize some volunteers were looking for a way out.  The virus is the exit door they have been looking for.  Thank them for their service and lovingly let them walk away.  You want people on your team that want to be on your team. 

Consider doing children's ministry differently until you can ramp back up to full speed.  You may need to adjust some classrooms.  Drop some activities you were going to do.  Move to doing a lot more things online.  Think about some games you can play online with the kids (make sure you have parents' permission).  You can share a devotion each week online.  Perhaps it means sending the lesson plans and activities to parents and having them do the lesson with their child.

Make sure your volunteers know all the steps you are taking to keep them safe from the virus.  Share with them that people are wearing masks,  everything is being sanitized,  no one is allowed to come into a the classroom if they have a fever, etc.  These steps may be the difference between someone who chooses to serve and someone who doesn't.

Some of the best volunteers I have had the privilege to serve with were senior adults.  While I want to see them be able to serve, I first and foremost want to protect their health.  That's why it's so important to have a serving plan that will protect them.

Your turn.  The floor is yours.  What are you doing to encourage volunteers to continue serving?   What safety measures are you putting in place?  

Share your ideas and insight in the comment section below.