Local Ministry Volunteers
Here are some useful thoughts on how to manage teams of local ministry volunteers. This page is writen by YWAM Brussels leadership forum: we are 10 staff persons and run 6 fulltime ministries with 25-30 volunteers who each donates 2 to 10 hours a week.
- When you want to involve the local church.
- Reaching out across the denominations.
- Volunteers learn about Christian values when they work. Teaching via practical work.
- We tend to ask people to be involved in the direct ministry rather than support posts (reception work, kitchen, maintenance). Although we could use people!
What do We and YWAM Get Out of It?
- New skills!!!
- New Ideas.
- Connectedness to local churches.
- YWAM becomes better known in the volunteers churches.
- Keeps us young.
- Keeps is growing.
- Potential long term staff/DTS recruitment.
- YWAM can get financial support from the churches and volunteers.
- YWAM gets an opportunity to disciple/develop people in an area we love.
Building Teams With Volunteers
- They can start to recruit themselves.
- Social team.
- Involving them in the decisions and brain storming sessions.
- Praying together is very important.
- Regular meetings are also very important. They can be painful to run as you have no idea who will be able to come, but if run regularly everyone can eventually make a meeting.
- Needs time for social, input, refresher training or discussion topic and prayer.
- Don't make them too long. Finishing early is OK!
- Training is important in order to develop the volunteers skills.
- Training can be hard because of time commitment.
- Volunteers can do the training too! They can often discover new gifts this way.
- Orientation to YWAM is an important part.
What do Volunteers Get Out of Working With Us?
- They believe in the ministry! They feel the work is important.
- Free drinks, Discount in the bookshop.
- They can develop their skills (language, sound desk, evangelism, cocktail mixing, publicity, sales techniques, communication skills, listening and counselling, worship leading, praying etc.)
- Gain from being in/close to a spiritual environment.
- Being in part of an ecumenical and multi-cultural environment.
- Volunteers often want (and only discover later sometimes) that they can make a difference in others lives.
- Volunteers can serve God in with us.
- Volunteers want to offer a service that they hope others (their own children and friends) might receive (here or in another place).
- God often grows and develops the volunteer and they perhaps gain more like this than they feel they give (principle of by giving you receive).
- Evangelism - it can be the first time they get out of their Christian bubble.
- Be quick to release responsibility.
- Giving real responsibility to volunteers.
- See to find the volunteer's strengths and gifts and match them to roles. Warning: This can take some time ...
- Challenge them to go further than they think they can do.
- Helping volunteers to be advocates for the ministry outside of the work time. To promote it. To have team pride.
- It is always best that volunteers do not have to work on their own - they should not have to have the responsibility.
- Keep working on new ways to maximise the time and talents of the volunteers.
- It is hard to manage because it can be busy and not busy at times. There can be things volunteers want to do and things they don't want to do. They also might not have all the specialised skills and hence can't do some things. There is a strong temptation to do it yourself because it is less bother!
Volunteers Have a Different Level of Commitment
- Hard to teach them because of lack of practice.
- They are things they REALLY don't want or like to do.
- School holidays can mean less (or more) working time that the volunteers can give.
- They can be late and have to leave early! This means we need to have lots of flexibility and patience.
- Teaching complex skills and delegating is time consuming and then may give no return due to volunteers having to leave or being unable to give their time any more.
Starting and Developing a Team
- Get the word out to the churches that you need volunteers. Flyers etc. are useful but church visits and presentations are very fruitful.
- Start with a BBQ or a fixed date for a meeting. A social event can be good to bond people and then explain the vision and need for help.
- Application process can and should be clear and a little strict. The Pastor needs to be in agreement and recommend that the volunteer will be good.
- A commitment to the ethics of the team and YWAM generally is important (e.g. Alternatives: ask questions regarding the volunteer's belief about life and abortion)
- Statement of Ethics.
- Trial period with a review at the end is very important. Both YWAM and the volunteer may need to re-think work together if it doesn't work out.