Volunteers are Your Best Resource
by Denise Locker
Strange as it may seem, there are those who don’t understand the value of volunteers. I’m sure you’ve heard the comments, “I can do it faster myself!” or “It takes too long to show someone else how to do it.” My personal favorite is, “They don’t do it the way I would.”
Volunteers constitute a partnership; a mutual necessity. First, God called us all to serve. You don’t volunteer to serve yourself. Service, by its very definition, is an action to benefit another. It involves people working together to make an impact for good in their neighborhood, community, or the world. Mark 10:45 provides a clear understanding of the meaning of the term servant: For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to give His life a ransom for many.”
The words “servant,” “service,” and “serve,” in different forms, occur well over 1,100 times in the Bible. In the New Testament, servant is frequently used to designate a master’s slave (one bound to him), but also to describe a follower of Christ (a “bondslave” of Christ). The term is a relationship of absolute dependence, in which the master and the servant stand on opposite sides, the former having a full claim, the latter having a full commitment. God has called us to serve. Jesus provided the example that we are to follow and the example we are to live in front of the world.
Second, there is a place for the volunteers to serve. There are times when those that volunteer might not have any other contact with the world during the week except going to the gas station or grocery store. This is your opportunity to “serve” those that volunteer; to extend the love and fellowship of Christ, to encourage, and build up those that God brings to you. Each person is there because God has brought them to you, not just to benefit your ministry or your organization, but for you to touch their lives for Christ.
With this in mind, how do you live this partnership out in a way that benefits you both? How do you begin your relationship with the volunteer?
1. Take the time with each person to start out on the right path.
I have a short one-page questionnaire that I ask each volunteer to fill out. It’s simply their contact information, birthday, past job experiences, hobbies, and current interests. I provide a check list of areas where volunteer work is needed.
2. Then I review the questionnaire with them and use it as a springboard to conversation.
I’m looking to hear how I can be of service to them. The questionnaire answers the question of where they will fit in the ministry.
3. Take them on a tour of the building and/or operations.
This allows the volunteer to become familiar with the locations of the restrooms, coffee service, where to find those they might need to complete their tasks, and to introduce them to the staff. This creates a warm connection between the staff and the new volunteer. The staff is aware that this will be happening occasionally and are very warm and welcoming when a new volunteer is brought around.
4. You must take the time to train the new volunteer.
This includes showing the volunteer how to do the tasks that are requested of her, including training in even the simplest things, which will prevent many possible problems from happening down the road. I never just give a volunteer a work space, a pile of envelopes and letters, and walk away. I’ve trained volunteer leadership to compile materials exactly as letters and mailing are to be organized for mail-out, grouped together with inserts, placed in the envelope, and sealed. The volunteer leadership person walks the new volunteer through the task and interacts with them throughout their day. This is done for two reasons: to insure the work is done properly and to be there for the new person if they have questions or need encouragement.
This first-day process, which has evolved through trial and error, has solved and averted many problems we had in the past. It is possible for a volunteer ministry to become a wonderful partnership where the needs of the ministry are being met at negligible to lower financial costs and at the same time, lives are being touched for Christ.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Everyone can be great because anyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t even have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Denise’s The Volunteer Book will be coming out March lst. To get a copy visit her website at www.DeniseLocker.com or Fresh Blessings.