Recruiting, resourcing, and managing volunteers is a key aspect of all churches and Christian organizations. Dr. Doug Fagerstrom, senior vice president of ConvergeWorldwide and a former seminary president, has written a masterful book on volunteers, based on his more than four decades of ministry.
The Volunteer: A Personal Toolkit for the Dedicated Volunteer, was published in the fall of 2009 by BMH Books of Winona Lake, Indiana. Here are a few excerpts from chapter 1, entitled “Developing a Relationship With Your Leader.” More information on the book is available at bmhbooks.com or by calling (toll-free) 1-800-348-2756.
A relationship between volunteer and leader is necessary-an open relationship with your direct leader or supervisor will foster healthy communication and meaningful outcomes at the end of every ministry encounter
Ten Imperatives for a Leader and a Volunteer
1. Always tell the truth.
2. Be careful how you talk about others.
3. Learn to ask lots of questions.
4. Learn to listen to each other.
5. Practice the fruit of God’s spirit (see Galatians 6).
6. Have fun with each other.
7. Share prayer requests.
8. Pray about the ministry together.
9. Don’t wait for the other to take the first step.
10. Encourage each other by saying, “Well done!” or “Good Job!” or “I Appreciate You!”
The key to working well together is good communication. Some leaders find it difficult to ask volunteers to meet certain expectations. They feel tentative about requiring too much of a volunteer, or they live in fear of losing the volunteer. Letting a leader know what he or she can expect of a volunteer can reduce this potential tension. Make intentions and boundaries simple and clear.
Ten Things a Leader Would Love To Know About A Volunteer’s Role and Level of Commitment
1. I will commit to serve _____ hours per week.
2. I will serve from ____(month) through _____ (month).
3. I will commit to this ministry role for _____ (period of time).
4. My first priority(ies) that may preempt my service responsibility is (are) _____.
5. I am/am not willing to attend extra meetings that you may require.
6. I can/cannot give personal financial resources toward this ministry.
7. I will help you recruit people to serve with us and will participate in all training experiences.
8. I will be loyal to this ministry by speaking well of you and others.
9. If I experience any difficulties in service, I will let you know right away.
10. I will give you plenty of notice if I decide to leave my role of service in this ministry.
Do you want to grow? Do you desire to offer better service to others and to God? If so, healthy feedback is one way to engage the growth process. Ask “How can I grow?” Ask your leader what you can do to improve your work. Do this in a casual environment when there is time for constructive dialogue with meaningful questions and responses.
Every leader needs grace, mercy, and help. Remember that your ministry supervisor does not just wrestle with flesh and blood but with the unseen forces of evil in this fallen and broken world (Ephesians 6:12). Your leader needs your prayer support!