“You can employ men and hire hands to work for you, but you must win their hearts to have them work with you.” – Tiorio
Here are three simple investments you can make to build a ministry team that works with you, not for you:
1. Be timely in your recognition of your volunteers .
It’s easy to get caught up in the next ministry task or event and forget to recognize the effort expended by your volunteers. I try never to forget that every person who volunteers for a task or event also has a life outside of church! So don’t wait until the annual ministry evaluation to tell them much you appreciate their ministry. Take the time to thank them for their contribution in as close proximity as you can to the actual event or act that you are recognizing.
2. Make a list of things you can thank your volunteers for and do it regularly and often.
Foster an attitude of gratitude for the people God has brought to your team. Each week make it a point to affirm at least one volunteer for who they are, not just for what they do. Think of a task a volunteer has done. What attributes of that volunteer contributed to the accomplishment of the task? For example, Was he generous? Was she hospitable? Be specific and intentional.
3. Make sure your volunteers feel like what they are doing is relevant and important.
Making a clear connection between each task and the ministry it accomplishes is vital to building a team and retaining volunteers. My favorite example comes from a church that had a lot of windows in their worship area. This church didn’t employ people to wash windows; they had volunteers who saw this as their ministry! The ministry leader had explained to his team that there are people who would come to worship and be distracted by the dirt and smudges on the glass, preventing them from hearing the word of God. Those who washed the windows saw it as their ministry to remove any obstacle that would keep someone from having an encounter with God during worship. Chances are if your volunteers see what they are doing as effective ministry, they will keep doing it!
Ridiculously simple, right? Nothing difficult about executing any of these. Simply recognizing behavior and expressing appreciation for ministry will go a long way towards winning the hearts of your team members and building a happy, healthy ministry team!