Getting and Keeping Volunteers for Christmas

by | Leadership, Operations, Team Development, volunteers

Does your church have enough volunteers for Christmas services? What about those extra activities you’re hosting throughout December – Christmas concerts, family photo booths, gift drives, and charity events for the local community? If the answer is “no” or “I hope so”, then keep reading….

Since you’ll probably need more volunteers for Christmas than you would for a typical Sunday service, simply relying on your usual system for filling volunteer roles may not work. Here is why:

You’ll have more first-time guests on Christmas.

  • More people who’ve never checked in their children.
  • More people will be coming into the parking lot.
  • More people will be coming into your church building with no idea where to go next.

While it’s wonderful to have new people at church, things could get chaotic fast if you don’t have enough volunteers to help them.

Also, special events, such as the various Christmas celebrations, are a great way to get people to try out volunteering. They’re just signing up for one day, so it’s a low commitment for them. However, this is your chance to make serving such a great experience for them that they decide to get involved on a more consistent basis.

So, how do you make sure you have enough volunteers for Christmas AND add to your regular volunteer team? Here are a few tips:

#1 – Figure out what roles you need to fill for Christmas services

If you’re doing anything special or new, you’ll probably need volunteer roles for Christmas that you wouldn’t typically need on a regular Sunday. Make a list of those roles along with a brief description of what each role involves.

Example: Photo Booth Coordinator – Volunteers in this role will keep the line organized, help families get their pictures taken, and keep any décor in the photo booth clean / in the proper place.

#2 – Define what Christmas services will look like

Before you ask volunteers to serve, you need to know what serving that day will entail.

  • Will you have volunteers come in earlier than usual?
  • Do you need volunteers to handle anything during the service (such as setting up Communion elements or assisting with baptisms)?
  • Do you have any special activities planned for the kids?

Create a service program with the order of events that details what Christmas Sunday will look like before you contact potential volunteers. They may have questions that this information will help you answer.

#3 – Identify key volunteer leaders first

You probably have volunteers who lead other volunteers on your behalf. You’ll likely have your hands full during Christmas services, so you want to make sure your key leaders are able to serve that day. You also need to provide them with information and instructions on what you need them to do. The better you equip them before Christmas, the more effective they can be in preventing issues and keeping things running smoothly.

Once you have those who aren’t a part of your regular volunteer team signed up to serve, let the appropriate volunteer leader know. Your volunteer leaders need to make sure these new volunteers are trained, and help them have a great experience serving.

#4 – Invite people to serve ASAP

Once you know what Christmas services will look like, what roles you’ll need to fill, and that your key volunteer leaders are on board, start inviting others to serve. Talk with your regular volunteers on Sunday mornings, send out follow-up emails, and ask current volunteers to help you find more people to help. The sooner you start getting this on their schedules, the more likely you are to have all those volunteer spots filled way before Christmas weekend.

#5 – Send reminder emails the week before Christmas

The only danger in asking people to serve early is that they might forget about it. Send out reminder emails the week before Christmas services to remind them of the volunteer role they’ll fill that day, what time you need them to arrive, and where they should meet when they get to the church.

#6 – Feed your volunteers

Provide coffee and a few snacks for volunteers. If you have a room where they can meet for final instructions before going to their assignments, set up a small table with goodies for them. This is especially important if you have volunteers helping with multiple worship services. They’ll appreciate your kindness and you’ll keep them fueled for the morning.

#7 – Send thank you notes 

You’ll probably need your volunteers to go above and beyond for Christmas services. Acknowledge their contribution to making those services run smoothly with a short, hand-written thank-you note. We’re so used to receiving electronic messages that a card in the mail will really stand out.

#8 – Follow up with new volunteers

Contact those who served at Christmas services but aren’t on a regular volunteer team yet. You can also ask your volunteer leaders to contact these individuals. That may work better since your volunteer leaders probably interacted with them more than you did.

Ask what they thought of their experience serving and see if they’re interested in becoming part of the team. Don’t assume they’ll sign up without you inviting them. They may not realize you need more volunteers on a regular basis. It’s worth taking a few minutes to get their feedback and ask if they’d like to serve more often.

Preparing for Christmas services isn’t a small task. However, by putting these tips into practice you can start filling those volunteer roles early, and add to your regular volunteer team, too.

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As the founder and Executive Director of ShareBuilt, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting construction professionals with charitable groups in need, I am driven by a profound desire to make a meaningful impact on communities. The inception of ShareBuilt...