Last week I said, “There certainly are a lot of things we need to give our volunteers, but for the next few weeks, I’m going to share my top five essentials for us to give our volunteers.” Then I posted about the #5 essential thing for us to give our volunteers . . . give them resources! Today I want to take a few moments to consider the #4 essential thing for us to give our volunteers, training!
I know, I can practically hear you groaning as you think about volunteer training. I understand it can be very difficult to get volunteers to show up at training opportunities, everyone is certainly busy, but training is essential if we are going to be effective in our ministry.
For thirteen years I worked for Kregel Bookstores as their church resource and curriculum consultant and I worked for Gospel Light for five years as a consultant and for Group for five years as a consultant. Over these years I provided training for literally hundreds of churches. Sometimes when I arrived at a church for their volunteer training I would find there were only two or three volunteers who showed up – a very frustrating thing for the person who planned the training. At other churches I’d find every seat filled with volunteers! So what was the difference? How do some churches struggle to get their volunteers to attend while others do not seem to face the same challenge? Consider the following . . .
- if we apologize for our training opportunities and talk/act as though we know our volunteers will not want to attend . . . they won’t.
- if we do not have a vision and plan for our training opportunities, our volunteers will not associate any value to the training and won’t attend.
- if we do not promote our training and remind our volunteers, they will not attend.
If however we approach our training opportunities with excitement, our volunteers will at least be curious! Consider the following . . .
- promote your training opportunities with posters, mailings, emails, personal announcements and by having your department heads/leaders also contact the volunteers who serve in their areas
- decorate the room where you have your training – this will add to the atmosphere and excitement
- most certainly provide food – not just cookies and a beverage, but provide a decent “spread”! For example, if you are having a training in the morning, provide a breakfast – not just donuts! Or, if you are having a training in the evening, ask non-volunteers in your church to make and donate their best desert which serves six people, then lay out a ” buffet” of amazing desserts! Your volunteers will notice this!
- choose topics which address concerns of your volunteers – classroom discipline, how to lead a child to Christ, how to be effective in engaging children in conversation in small groups, how to get the most out of your curriculum . . . as your volunteers for the top five topics they would most appreciate receiving training for and then provide training for those topics!
- use training as an opportunity to fellowship, build ministry teams and pray for one another
- hold up training as essential – make sure your volunteers know how many trainings you will plan in a year and let them know they are mandatory for anyone who wants to serve in the children’s ministry
- schedule two trainings for each topic and allow volunteers to choose which training time best fits with their schedule
- provide child care – screen providers
- invite guest speakers – check with the publisher of your curriculum as they may have someone they could send for free or for a small fee to lead your training or check with area churches and see if another children’s director would be willing to lead a training at your church if you reciprocated and led a training at their church!
Whatever you do, commit to providing training for your volunteers this year because it is essential. If we want our volunteers to be successful in their ministry, we need to provide the tools they need and training is an essential tool!
Next week I’ll look at the #3 essential thing we need to provide for our volunteers, support and encouragement!