Archive for the ‘Volunteers’ Category

Volunteer Job Descriptions

As a part of our systems check-up, we’re revising all of our volunteer job descriptions. Most pastors have written job descriptions, but do your volunteers have them? Do they know what you’re expecting from them and how long it should take? Do they know who they talk to if they are going to miss a weekend or have a problem? If you’re trying to get someone on the same page, it’s probably best to have an actual page.  We have a written job description for every volunteer position.  Here’s one for an elementary host.

Opportunity: Elementary Host
Time: Weekend Service and approximately 5 hours during the week.
Reports to: Elementary Host Coach

Each Sunday morning we have a unique opportunity to capture the minds and hearts of elementary aged children. We must do everything we can, on and off stage, to show them that God is relevant to their world.

As a Host, your job is to lead the kids in their 1 hour Sunday morning experience…creating a fun, engaging, Christ-centered atmosphere. Be the mouthpiece and the facilitator, driving home the main point.


  1. Practice your script during the week. (If applicable, memorize your lines.)
  2. Arrive early, being sure to huddle with your team each weekend.
  3. Do everything you can to engage the kids with God’s truth. Be goofy, funny, silly, serious, silent, loud, and extremely animated and creative.
  4. Communicate to the Host Coach any new ideas, encouraging stories, or concerns.
  5. “Own” the room on Sunday morning. Be in charge of the “flow”…seeing that the hour runs smooth and on time.

Saying Thanks


Our volunteer leaders gathered last night for a quarterly leadership summit. The goal of last night was simply say thanks for serving. I reminded everyone of just how crazy our mission is, and thanked them for being a little crazy too. We do this four times a year, and each one has a different focus.

1. Vision
2. Appreciation
3. Worship
4. Celebrate

So we say thanks at all of them, but in August, I focus more on the vision for the coming year.

As a part of the night, I gave out the first two Leafys. These are custom made awards to recognize special service. We gave them to two volunteers that just go over and above the call.

Saying thanks is something that I have to keep working on, but it’s like fuel. One of the reasons we don’t have a volunteer problem is that I think we’ve done a good job of creating a volunteer culture. It really means something to be a volunteer leader at Oak Leaf Church.

Leadership Development Plan

At our all staff meeting today, I shared my Leadership Development Plan with our staff.  We talked about developing volunteers and turning them into leaders.  We talked about the role of staff and how to intentionally develop leaders.  And we talked about personal leadership development.

Here is the document that I prepared and shared with our staff.


Getting More Volunteers

I imagine every church, young or old, has asked this question. We have more than 100 people serving on any given Sunday, and yet it seems like we always have new opportunities. How many times in a meeting have I said, “We need to get somebody to…” And occasionally, staff or key volunteers will come to me or Anthony looking for volunteers.

We don’t have a secret list in a drawer somewhere of people that want to serve but aren’t plugged in. I don’t have a pastoral stash of good people just waiting around to do something. Last week, I talked with our staff about these principles.

1. Volunteers will only work under leaders. People that are serving need clear direction and they want to work for someone that has it under control. Volunteers do not want to walk into a mess that needs fixing. It’s much harder, but we need to solve the leadership problem before attacking the volunteer problem.

2. Expand your circle. I don’t know people in our church that are not serving, so coming to me for help isn’t going to accomplish much. Each staff person has a circle, and over time, all those people start serving somewhere. I’ve read that it’s only possible to really only know about 150 people. In a church setting, you’ll get to a point where you are out of people to know. So the key is not making your circle bigger, it’s getting into other circles. You need to ask your key volunteers to intentionally develop their circle, not keep trying to get people out of yours.

3. People need to buy into the ministry, but they also need to buy into you. There’s probably not a lot of people in your church that don’t think kids ministry isn’t important. They don’t hate children and think kids ministry is a waste of money. They think someone should do it. But sometimes, the reason people don’t rush to serve isn’t because of the ministry, it’s because of the leader. There needs to be a personal buy in…a personal connection. They need to trust your leadership and want to follow YOU.

4. Go get ’em. We have 600+ adults that are attending our church on a regular basis. The volunteers we need are already in our building. They are so close. We just need to go get them. We need to develop systems that help us train and empower people. This is hard, and it takes time. But most of the time, the people you need are sitting there doing nothing. They just need to be inspired by the vision, challenged by a leader, and given an opportunity to impact the Kingdom.

The Value of Being Nice

Yesterday, Anthony stopped by the movie theater to drop off a final check. As we dropped off that check to the place that had been our home for the last 13 months, I was reminded about the power of being nice. The managers at the theater told us that they missed us and wished us well. During our time there, we made sure to write thank you notes, give gift cards, do what we said we were going to do, clean up after ourselves, and stopped by just to say hi. Not only is this good business, it’s just a nice thing to do. How bad would it be to invite the community to our church, but have the employees at the theater hate being there because of us. I think it speaks to our character as a church (and the character of our volunteers) that we never had an incident and that we were wanted there

We’re moving into Woodland with the same philosophy. I want to see the custodial staff enjoy Sunday mornings, and give them little to have to clean up. I want to be able to help teachers and students. We want to be a church that serves. In short, doing some nice things will go a long way. Here’s some ideas:

  • If you’re portable, write thank you notes and include gift cards. $5 to Starbucks doesn’t cost you that much.
  • Send periodic hand-written notes or e-mails to just say “good job.” Be sure to include your staff, volunteers and especially new volunteers.
  • Ask personal questions. I know that Vonna’s daughter is a 14 year old fast pitch softball player who plays shortstop and has a rocket arm.
  • If your church meets at a school, consider doing something for some students. Maybe you could cook hamburgers for the band one afternoon while they are getting ready to go to a competition. Maybe you could deliver pizza to the chorus.
  • Under promise and over deliver. Go above and beyond what is required.
  • Pay your bills. Don’t make people have to come asking for money. That may happen every now and then, but they will trust you and give you a free past for an honest mistake if you’re on top of things.
  • Treat the cleaning staff with respect.
  • Say thanks. Lots of times.

Volunteer Lanyards

We used to get volunteer laynards from  Now, we’ve created lanyards for each team, which are all a different color.  We just print them on nice paper on the ink-jet printer and put them in lanyard holders that we got from the office store.  Here’s a link to a zip file containing the Illustrator files.  Customize away.

How Volunteer Central Works

Our greatest asset on Sunday mornings is our team of volunteers.  People are drawn to our church for many reasons: Michael’s teaching, our incredible band, our “cool” location (most people in Cartersville have never heard of a church meeting in a movie theater), but the reason people keep coming back is our volunteer team.

We have over 150 volunteers that serve at least once a month on Sundays.  About 75 of those are serving on any given Sunday.  So that we can stay connected to our volunteers each week, we set up a volunteer check-in room called Volunteer Central, located in the tiny Birthday Room off one side of the lobby.

From an organizational standpoint, Volunteer Central allows us to know who is there and how many folks to deduct from the count for that day because they are there during both hours of ministry.  More importantly, Volunteer Central allows us to give a personal greeting to all of our volunteers, and lets us say “thanks for serving” every week.  Volunteers love it when they are known and appreciated.

I would say that I know by name, 90% of the volunteers who serve.  That’s a lot of people’s names to remember, but I love knowing their names because it allows me to personally thank them and encourage them. Here’s how it works:

We keep wo sets of volunteer rosters for workers to sign in – one for KidVenture volunteers (children’s ministry) and one for all the other volunteers.  We separated them out because KidVenture workers have special numbered lanyards for their area for security reasons. Each roster has the name of the volunteer (last name first) and where they serve.  There is a box to indicate if the volunteer will be at church during both hours of ministry and another box to indicate how many of their children will be at church during both hours.  There is also a box to update email addresses.

Kids teachers pick up their rolls, lead teachers pick up walkie-talkies, and every volunteer picks up a lanyard.  We give every volunteer a little half sheet of announcements – The Inside Scoop – with has extra announcements and insider information.

We open at 8:20 a.m. for volunteers to begin checking in.  We encourage all volunteers to check-in between 8:20 a.m. and 8:45 a.m.  This allows them to get in place before guests arrive.  We even expect those who serve during the 10:15 a.m. service to sign in that early.  We want them to attend the worship service during the hour they’re not serving, so they should be at church early anyway.

We have two separate tables for check-in: one for KidVenture volunteers and one for all other others.  The rosters stay in the same place each week, to avoid confusion. As people enter the room, we call them by name (if possible), say a quick encouraging word, make sure they get all the gear they need for that day (including gum) and thank them for serving.

Volunteers return lanyards, roll sheets, offerings from the children, and radios to Volunteer Central at the end of their hour of service.  Children’s volunteers check off that their lanyard was returned. At the end of the day, our Pastor of Administration takes the rosters and counts how many were at church during both hours of ministry.  He then deducts the number from the total count for the day, giving us our total attendance for the day.

We have found that Volunteer Central is a crucial part of the success of Sunday morning and integral part of encouraging our volunteers.

– Tim (Connections Pastor)

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Volunteer Video

This Sunday, we start a new series called Click.  I’ll begin with "play" and talk about getting involved.  I’m going to challenge people to get involved and go invite. A few weeks ago, I put together this little volunteer video that we are going to show.  It was very easy to film and easy to edit, and I think it will be a great way to show everyone just how many people it takes to do what we do. 

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Thoughts on Volunteers

Obviously, everything we do is dependent on volunteers. We’re a volunteer driven organization. We depend on people giving and people serving. So volunteers, are huge. Here are a few random thoughts I have on the topic of volunteers.

1. I think the key to volunteer recruitment and retention is organization. Volunteers will not rush in to jump on a sinking ship. This is why begs and pleas for workers in a service don’t work. People are skeptical of a ministry in dramatic need. But if something is working smoothly, and they can play a part, they will WANT to be a part of it. Something that is accomplishing it’s mission is attractive. We have a guy that recently took over product creation, and one thing that helped with that is that he saw it being done, saw the finished product and was able to just take over. He’s now doing more than we could and he’s making it his own. He didn’t have to invent the wheel…He took something that was working pretty good and ran with it.

2. Every volunteer should have a clear picture of their roll, their job description, the time requirements, and who they go to with problems. This is organization and clearly communicating expectations. I think every volunteer should have a simple, written job description.

3. There is no substitute for personal invitations, phone calls and face to face asks. This works 500% better than me talking about it from the stage. And the fact that the request comes from another volunteer increases the meaning even more.

4. Making sure volunteers have what they need, are given opportunities to suggest improvements, and are encouraged all the time is huge. Eric, the guy in charge of our setup team, just showed me a t-shirt design that he’s making for the set up crew, and he wants to plan a day at the lake. That’s community right there, and it makes volunteering more like family. Anything and everything you can do to appreciate volunteers is exponential. In a few weeks, we’re throwing a HOE DOWN for all our volunteers…complete with square dancing with a real caller, some good food, and just a chance to hang out with families.

5. A great source for volunteers is the volunteers. Who do they know? They will not know anyone off the top of their head, but there are lots of people that they could ask to join them. Think of a guy moving and needing help loading a moving truck. He’d call people. There are people out there who want to feel needed just waiting to be asked. We shouldn’t say no FOR people…they just need to ask. And a friend, co-worker, neighbor, etc. is more likely to volunteer if they will be serving along side someone they know. I think every volunteer should know that one of their top three jobs is to replicate themselves.

6. Some great books on volunteers are simply strategic volunteers and the volunteer revolution. Both of these books are worth reading if you have the time and will increase your vision for volunteers, and therefore, ministry.

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