If you ever bring up the subject of recruiting and managing volunteers with members of a non-profit organization there’s an instant bond. The immediate connection occurs while you discover that others, too, experience the joy, satisfaction, challenge and frustration of building and leading a volunteer-based crew. In reality, you don’t lead volunteers… Instead, they lead you!
I recently had the privilege and honor of brainstorming this subject with a group of amazing people while sharing my Team Building Solutions workshop with the management team at West End Community Church in Nashville, TN. Overseeing strong volunteer teams isn’t easy no matter how long you’ve been involved in church ministry. None-the-less, there’s something tremendously rewarding about helping members of your community discover their strengths, connect them to a team and watch them use their God given gifts to build the body of Christ. I’m quite passionate about this amazing process and the subject frankly, fires me up!
It was an incredible experience to talk strategies and solutions on how to build, organize, and structure volunteer teams, then manage, lead and maintain healthy ministries! Although many of us have served “in the church biz” for many years, you would think we all have it down. As you well know, when it comes to dealing with people, it’s not an exact science. I’ve learned through trial and error many lessons, but I still have many teachable moments that help keep me humble (notice I emphasized the word “help!”).
Because I prefer to conduct the workshop as a dialogue rather than a monologue, I encourage the participants to interrupt me at any time to fire out questions. There was one from senior Pastor Carter Crenshaw that was a favorite. Well into the program, Pastor Carter admitted that it seems like other churches have an efficient process that volunteers are beating down doors to serve. He asked if my phone was “ringing 10 times a day” from folks begging to work with me. “Is it really that easy for you and other churches to recruit volunteers, I mean, are they calling you constantly to serve on your teams?” Crenshaw pondered. My answer: No, no and no! I wish it were that easy. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. This process is extremely rigorous. Let’s face it, families are busy with living chaotic lives. There’s work outside and inside the home, music lessons, homework, sports practices, games, recitals, family obligations and much, much more. But, there are concrete approaches you can implement such as building relationships, casting vision, delegating appropriately and focusing on quality. There are steps that help make the process more manageable while developing teams that are attractive, exciting, rewarding and worth the extra time and effort to any volunteer. It takes organization, structure, and discipline to implement well.
Thanks, West End, for graciously welcoming me. I look forward to some upcoming one-on-one sessions with staff members so, together, we can create healthy volunteer groups! I’m enjoying this journey of bonding over building teams.
One other note worth mentioning. I was extremely impressed by this entire team led by Pastor Carter and Staff Director, Patrick Kelly; for all that they are doing to bring people into His Kingdom all for His glory. But, one observation that I would like to celebrate is that four members of their Upper Management staff are women. Way to go! That is not something I see often in ministry. Having diversity in leadership, realizing that both genders convey unique God given talents, skills and invaluable strengths to any team is something, among a long list of other accomplishments, that your community should be quite proud of!