8 Things I Learned from My Volunteers

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘It takes a village’ before. Usually that phrase is used in the context of raising kids; but when I hear that phrase… I think of the dozens of volunteers that it takes to make Crossroads happen on a weekly basis. Without these dedicated individuals we could not create the Crossroads Experience.

So in the spirit of recognizing the contribution of volunteers, I wanted to take a second to reflect on a few things that the volunteers who work with me have taught me along my journey.

1 – Discipleship is like training – you do it one step at a time:

We have volunteers who come from all sorts of backgrounds. Some have followed Jesus for decades – others are just beginning their faith journey. No matter where we are at in our walk with Christ – we can all be looking to take our next step in our relationship with Jesus.

2 – Volunteers need to feel needed and appreciated to be retained.

When was the last time you expressed how thankful you are for someone? I make sure to take time out each week to highlight and celebrate what our volunteers have done. Our production volunteers are also on the go much of Sunday morning… to accommodate the rapid pace of Sunday, I have introduced a grab-and-go breakfast area with a Nespresso. Taking care of our volunteers snack and coffee needs is just one small way we say thanks.

3 – Perfection isn’t the goal as much as individual and corporate growth.

I regularly step back and ask how I can help a volunteer grow. Is it a conversation over lunch, or reviewing Sunday morning footage with them? Each individual is different, so the evaluation process must be different and unique as well.

4 – Mistakes happen, but people are valuable.

In the non-stop nature of a weekend experience, it is much too easy to be curt or short when giving feedback. I always try and take a breath and process before giving direct feedback to a volunteer in the moment. This helps me to make sure I’m not coming off as angry or trying to cut them down in front of others.

5 – You never know what baggage someone is carrying around so always seek out ways to encourage and support.

An essential part of this is regularly praying for your volunteers. If God prompts you with a word of encouragement or a compliment… don’t hold that back and go ahead and share it. You never know when that person needs a pick me up.

6 – What’s Celebrated is Repeated

Casting a vision over and over again with tangible stories of how we are moving toward that vision is key to getting volunteers to come along for the ride, especially when you are changing “the way it’s always been done”

7 – Communication is Key

Who and why are more important than what and how. In other words, valuing the individual and communicating the reason for serving is more important than the details of what is being done or how it’s getting done. When you lose the who and the why, the what and the how won’t matter anymore.

8 – Encourage a Biblical model of rest

Faithful volunteers have servants hearts. It is easy to overwork them and under appreciate them. But it is essential for the long term life blood of the church for the servant leaders to also have somewhere they can get nourished to avoid running on empty.

Creating a healthy volunteer culture is a process. It doesn’t just happen overnight. What creative ways have you found to honor your volunteers? Share below in the comments!

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