This is how you DON’T support your volunteers

At New Life, we are blessed to have some great students that help me out Sunday mornings to set up the children’s area for the Sunday services.  I love these students and the commitment they give.

However, one particular week a little bit ago we were all a little short handed.  We had a few helpers not there and so we were rushing to get everything out and set up on time.  The problem with us rushing things and running around was that we got a little sloppy and I heard us saying, “the volunteers will know what to do” and “the volunteers can set this up”.  It was at this point that I had to stop and say, “we are not honoring our volunteers this way”.  Immediately we stopped and made sure we made things right.

images-5Now, I know that our volunteers are helpful and they serve their tails off each and every week. And I know that our volunteers would be great about helping beyond what is expected of them. But, by us taking the mentality of “we don’t need to do this, they can figure it out”, we were NOT setting them up for success.  We are setting them up to be confused and possibly frustrated because they come in expecting certain things.

If you want to frustrate your volunteers go ahead and…

  • don’t keep them up to date on what his happening and or what they will be teaching
  • ill-equip them to be successful on Sunday or in their small groups
  • don’t support or back them up when a conflict arises
  • change plans last minute without letting them know
  • don’t include them on decisions or get their input on changes
  • tell them all the things they do wrong and nothing of what they do right

I have probably done all of the above things many times before, so this is a great reminder for all of us to set our volunteers for success, to support them and to let them know just how much they mean to us and the ministry.  It is more work on our part, but I know that the more work we do to set up our volunteers for success, the more success and less failure we have.

What have you done to set your volunteers up for success rather than failure?

Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor as well as Social Media Director at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, periscopes and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at and on iTunes (search YMSidekick).

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