How to See Volunteers Serve Long-Term

Does your children's ministry have a big volunteer back door? 

Does it seem hard to keep volunteers?

Does it seem like just when you get a new volunteer in place, another one quits?

You are not alone.  Many churches struggle with this.  Their volunteer team is not growing due to losing current volunteers.

If only you could keep the volunteers you have now and add more, you would be in a good spot. 

Allow me to share some tips with you for keeping volunteers long-term.   

Get volunteers in their sweet spot

One of the biggest reasons why volunteers quit is because they are not operating in their area of passion and abilities.  This comes from the famous words "wherever you need me" when you ask a new volunteer where they want to serve. 

The temptation is to place volunteers where you need them rather than placing them where they need to be.

Where they need to be is a role that is a good fit for their personality, gifting, and passion. There is also a question you can ask them that will help identify where they should be serving.  The question is this - "What is your dream job at church?"  They will tell you. If it's not in children's ministry, help them find another role that help them love their opportunity to serve.

When volunteers are placed in roles that are outside of their sweet spot, two things will happen.  They will burn out and quit or they will endure the role because of their character, but they will not be happy and will not thrive.

If you want to keep volunteers, then get them in their sweet spot. When they get in their sweet spot, there is great chance they will stay with you long-term.

Give volunteers opportunities to get to know the people they serve with.

Volunteers will serve long-term if they get connected with the people they are serving with.  Relationships is one of the top reasons why people serve long-term. 

People will stay on a team based on the depth of the relationships they form with those they serve with.

Create opportunities for your volunteers to get to know each other and form relationships.  

Don't ask them to stay over and serve another hour and miss the worship service.

We've all been there. A volunteer calls out at the last minute.  Your only option seems to be to ask a volunteer to stay over and serve another hour.  

Don't go there. Even if they say "yes," it is the formula for burnout.  The volunteer you ask to stay over will make a mental note of it and it will come back to bite you down the road when they end up quitting.  

Remember this...

Use the ministry to build people instead of using people to build the ministry.

Find another solution.  Build up your team to the point where you don't have to ask someone to stay over and serve another hour.  Build a team of "floaters" who can step in and serve when someone has to step out at the last minute.

Encourage them on a regular basis.

Did you know that 65% of volunteers have never heard the words "Thank you for serving."  

I want to urge you to say those words every single week to your volunteers.  It does make a difference in seeing them continue to serve with you.  

Drop them a note of appreciation...handwritten.

Text them and thank them for serving.

Gift them a gift.  Maybe it's their favorite candy bar.  Maybe it's a Starbuck's gift card. 

These small tokens of your appreciation for a volunteer will contribute to them staying with you long-term.

Your turn. What do you do to help volunteers stay on your team long-term?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

p.s. Have read my book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams?"  It has been called the best book ever written on the subject. Get your copy today at this link.