What do CM volunteers need?
- Affirmation. We all need encouragement. Volunteers are no different. Honor them. Brag about them in their presence to others. Deflect praise to them. Shoulder the burden of criticism so as to minimize its impact on them. (This is a necessary task of leadership. There is a time for volunteers to hear and deal with constructive criticism, but it can be demoralizing if they get hit with it week after week without any kind of filter or support system.) If they do not feel appreciated, then they typically will migrate to opportunities which yield consistent positive feedback. It is a fact of human nature. Ignore it at your church’s peril.
- Resources. Ministry to children requires basic supplies and tools. It also needs various knock-your-socks-off cool props and set pieces to capture the imaginations of children and those volunteers that get to work with them. Even if you have little or no budget in your church, start small and build a treasure chest of cool stuff for your workers to use in the ministry. You might even network with other local churches to see if they would loan you their cool stuff. I bet they would be willing to give it if they no longer have a need for it!
- Clear expectations. Never assume your volunteers know every policy or procedure in your church. This relates to taking children to the restroom, check-in/check-out procedures, appropriate physical touch, sanitizing toys and tools and general cleanup, and so on. Do they know what to do? Are you sure? Write it down. Post critical information on walls in conspicuous places. Have a handbook full of the information which is given to each teacher and ask them to sign that they have read and understood it (I am currently developing this for my church, both for leaders and for parents. It is hard, but necessary).
- Training. Learn the culture of your church and train your people using appropriate means. In my context, much of the training currently occurs using just-in-time training and mentoring. In the past we have done seminars, classes, and sent people to events. We try to have current leaders training rising leaders.
- Communication. Be in contact with your leaders in various ways. This is not hard to do in the current environment with social technologies, handheld devices, email, cell phones, and–dare I mention it–the ability actually to speak face-to-face (rumors of this method’s demise are highly exaggerated).
What would you add?