Grow Your Volunteer Teams from the Ground Up

by | Leadership, Team Development, volunteers

Growth is slow and quiet. It happens in tiny, often imperceptible ways. Sudden moments of success often come with years of faithful work out in the field. Even the harvest of a single season begins with planting and patiently cultivating for growth.

As you invest in your church’s volunteer teams, how would you describe your season? Are you starting afresh? Maybe you’re a new church plant, launching a ministry offering, or establishing new leadership? Or perhaps you’re looking to sustain growth? Revamping something that’s been going for a while, multiplying a bursting small group into two, or looking to retain volunteers while navigating everyone’s summer schedules?

Growing from the ground up empowers sustained and genuine growth in every season. Here are five powerful and practical growth strategies you can apply today to cultivate health in your volunteer teams.

5 Powerful & Practical Growth Strategies:

Maximize What You Have

Too often we stifle growth by wishing we had our neighbor’s plot of land. You may not have the technology you wanted, the most charismatic team members, the largest team, or the biggest budget. You may even have the opposite of those things. But what else do you have and how can you maximize it? Are you called by God to serve the community you’re in? Do you have people who care about the mission? Some leaders with experience, or maybe no experience but a lot of energy? 

What would it look like to maximize the strengths and resources already in your hands?

Equip According to the Ask

What will your volunteers need to be successful at what you ask of them? 

Much of volunteer attrition occurs because of poor communication, unclear expectations, or training gaps. What systems and habits help remove those pitfalls? 

If you want…

  • Group leaders to walk with members through life hardships. How do you equip them to do so? 
  • Greeters to notify security of suspicious activity. How will they know what to look for? 
  • Prayer teams to operate responsibly in the prophetic. What guidelines do you hold them to follow, and how do you cultivate their gifts? 

Development helps your volunteers feel seen and known. They feel valued and cared for through opportunities to gain skill and experience in areas they’re gifted in and passionate about. Also, explaining available resources can help new volunteers feel comfortable to join, where before they may have disqualified themselves.

Celebrate Wins

Everyone wants what they do to matter. Especially volunteers who give of their time and energy because they believe so much in the vision of your church that they work for free. Celebrations are a simple and power-packed way to keep existing volunteers and help foster their passion for service. These celebrations can be as simple as public acknowledgements and thank you cards, to appreciation dinners and gifts. 

One great approach to celebrating wins is to connect the big picture success to their efforts. 

Twenty people received salvation last weekend? That wouldn’t have been possible if the facilities team hadn’t opened the doors and tech arts hadn’t lit the stage and ran the mics. One person came to church for the first time and felt so welcomed by the greeter that they said something about it? That’s for sure worth celebrating!

Invest in Relationships

As believers, we are all part of the body of Christ. We’re God’s kids and part of his family. 

Volunteer teams are one of the most practical expressions of what that looks, feels, and functions like in the life of the church. 

What community and family will a volunteer experience in your team? Help them feel connected and put down roots in your church by building relationship and having conversations beyond work topics. Show interest and care for them personally. Create comradery and shared experiences among members of your team, both in work and play. How can you empower team members to care for each other? What relationship investments can you model as the norm for your group? 

Pro leader Tip: Be intentional to maintain relationships with those who step off your team to serve in other areas. Otherwise, volunteers can feel like their connection was transactional, not relational all along. 

Cultivate Healthy Culture

Just because something grows doesn’t mean it’s healthy. 

Sometimes unhelpful dynamics or cultural norms can spring up within our teams and threaten to overtake the good that’s growing there. That’s why it’s vital to continually evaluate and cultivate a healthy culture within your team. Start by looking at team experience. What do you want the volunteer experience to be like for those serving there? How can you cultivate that type of experience?

Remember, growth is slow and quiet. It begins in small ways, but eventually will produce a harvest. Don’t give up cultivating health and growth in your teams. Your efforts are worth it.

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