Training Ministry Volunteers

Volunteers.  They are the backbone of every ministry.  In my experience, my volunteers are just as important to our ministry as I am.  They are the ones on the front lines and in the trenches DOING a lot of the work of ministry with people.  Over the years, I learned a very valuable lesson:  my job as a “pastor” or “ministry leader” should be viewed as a “player/coach” role.  I needed to pour time, energy, and resources into my volunteers.  It’s a leadership thing.  It’s also a stewardship thing. [Luke 19:11-27]  So here are a few ways that pastors and ministry leaders can invest in and train their volunteers:

1. Provide All-Volunteer Training Days

One or two times a year we try to provide a multiple-hour training day for our volunteers.  This is great for several reasons: a) great team building time, b) you can dispense a large amount of information in a limited amount of time to the majority of your team, c) you can use these as a catalyst for team momentum.

2. One-On-One Mentoring Opportunities

These usually take place over lunch for me.  This is a great opportunity to “shepherd” your volunteers/leaders.  You can find out how they are doing individually, what they are concerned about, what is going well, and what specific issues you can help them address.  Dave Ferguson, in his book Exponential, gives a great formula for this: RPM’S – which stands for Relational, Physical, Mental, & Spiritual.  Learning to check in with your leaders in One-On-One moments can also be a great way to cast individual vision.

3. Web Resources

I don’t know about you, but I come across some GREAT content for ministry and leadership via the internet.  It helps me become a better pastor and ministry leader.  Now think about how great your team could be if they got that content too?  Share with your team what you are discovering through the internet about ministry and leadership.  The positive to this is that it doesn’t consume as much time as a meeting would… and they are still getting valuable information.  Use social media as a platform to share this, because most of your team is on it.

4. Model Leadership to your Volunteers

Your volunteers need to see you LIVING what you are teaching.  Remember the old saying: “More is Caught than Taught?”  Andy Stanley calls this on his team “Wear It.”  When you “Wear” what you want to be true in your ministry… your volunteers will start to catch it and wear it too.

5. Find “Teachable Moments”

There are always times when things happen and we can pause with our volunteers “in the moment” to help them lead better.  These are great times to ask questions that help both you and your volunteers learn from experience.

6. Make Resources Available

We read books, magazine articles, scripture that speak to us about ministry and leadership.  Why not build a library of resources that your volunteers can have access to?  A well resourced team is a better equipped team.

** the bottom line is to do whatever it takes to help your volunteers be the absolute BEST volunteers they can be.  It is a part of our job description as a pastor or ministry leader: “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.  Their responsibility is to EQUIP God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”  Ephesians 4:11-12


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