Retaining Volunteers and Inspiring Them

Or anyone for that matter

Let’s say you are in charge of managing the nursery during church on Sundays. Volunteers rotate so they don’t miss the service every week. But recently you’ve had a number of nursery workers quit for a variety of reasons. Your best worker is pregnant again and can’t be on her feet, a family is moving, and another worker has to care for her elderly parent. Retaining volunteers is a challenge. What do you do?

Volunteers and Teamwork

Volunteers are a precious commodity. In the workforce, an employee has a standard to maintain in order to keep his job or be paid. The paycheck is a strong motivation. In the church, there are few paid positions and most are volunteers. It’s a very different experience to lead volunteers compared to paid employees.

However, even in the workplace the paycheck is not necessarily the best motivation for a job done excellently. Bosses and managers are continually trying to figure out how to improve the morale among their employees because they know it will result in better performance.

Retaining volunteers is critical. So what is it that motivates good performance, loyalty, and consistency. I think there are things that leaders can do to encourage these if you are a children’s ministry leader, a parent leaving children, a Sunday school teacher, or a grandma I think you will benefit from learning how to lead volunteers because the same principles apply.

Here are some practical tips that may help.

Be in constant communication with your workers. They need to know they have your full support. Whether it be a phone call or an email, be in touch weekly. Find out if they are having any problems and if is there anything you can help them with. Even a small problem can be overwhelming if you’re not sure how to handle it. If you are in communication they will feel free to bounce ideas off of you if they are unsure about anything. There is nothing like feeling that your leader cares about you, to foster loyalty. (Hopefully this doesn’t really need saying, but if you are a male or female leading the opposite sex, you have to be very careful to not behave in any way that encourages intimacy.) All of the natural male- female boundaries need to be in place.

Foster a team feeling among the workers. Meetings of the workers to brainstorm together can do this. A leadership style which facilitates rather than dictates works better in retaining volunteers. You can present a problem and ask the team to help with solutions. It’s amazing what great ideas can come from the variety of thinkers on your team. I find frequently I think I have a great idea, but when I get others’ input it molds and improves my original idea. And the workers will have more passion for what they are doing when they have been part of the planning.

Be sure they know they are appreciated. Nothing is worse than working at a task requires long and hard hours and you think nobody cares. A quarterly dinner, it can even be a potluck if there is no budget, with some creative programming to show appreciation might help in retaining volunteers.

Be sure the workers know what is expected of them. Nothing is worse when you’re called to do a job than when you don’t know exactly what the expectations are. Your workers need to be confident that they can do the job set before them. You don’t want to come across as bossy or demanding, but rather encouraging and supportive.

So here’s a start. There’s much more to be said on this topic. We’ll definitely revisit retaining volunteers as well as recruiting. In the meantime, can you leave any questions or any ideas below that you have that you can share with others? We will all benefit from your input.

Daddy Please Hurry Home

A Tear Jerker

When my daughter was 12, she recorded this song on the 4-Ever His! Album with her sisters. She s now 30 with a daughter of her own. But Daddy Please Hurry Home still brings tears to listeners ears! (One person told me they had to pull off the freeway because they began crying too hard.) It was written for her to sing by Jim Covell.

This is a tribute to all fathers out there! Happy Fathers Day!

Daddy Please Hurry Home on You Tube.

Encountering Obstacles in Teaching

Moving forward in God's will

Encountering obstacles

Help in Encountering Obstacles

Encountering obstacles? Last week I talked about when we were driving in the mountains and the car in front of us stopped on the curve going up the hill. We had to stop and consequently we began to slide backwards and stopped on the gravel just a few feet from the cliff! When we stopped moving forward, we began to slide backwards!I mentioned several things that cause us to stop moving forward. One of them was encountering obstacles.
Do you need help with encountering obstacles? We need to be moving forward or we risk sliding backwards. Moving forward in our own strength is useless at best. And it usually eventually messes things up more than they were to begin with. We want to move forward in God’s will and strength.
Those of us who are believers all say that we want God’s will for our lives. We say we want to seek and fulfill God’s purpose in our lives. But when we study Scripture and we see what God asks us to do, eventually we all find there are obstacles in doing God’s will. I have come up with nine obstacles and I know you can probably find more.
Here are  nine obstacles to doing God’s will and their corresponding Scriptures.

What gets in our way of doing God’s will?

1.  I think I don’t have the ability.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:21

2.  I don’t want to do it because it is too hard.

  • Philippians 4:13

3.  I don’t know how to do it?

  • James 1:5

4.  I am lazy.

  • Proverbs 15:19
  • Proverbs 18:9

5.  Others will make fun of me if I do it.

  • Matthew 4:10

6.  I am afraid to do it.

  • Jeremiah 17:8

7.  I’d rather serve myself.

  • Luke 8:14

8.  There are other things more important to me than serving God.

  • Psalm 19:8-10
  • Psalm 119:10

9.  I try do do His will in my own strength instead of His strength and I fail.

  • Philippians 4:13
  • John 14:26

It is not too early to begin to teach this to kids, very simply. You might spend a week on each obstacle talking about what this might look like in their lives and then read and talk about the Scripture that goes with it. Talk to them about how God can help in each of the situations.

Some of you might be thinking, But I want to know God’s will for me on a day to day basis. I want to know God’s will on major decisions. He doesn’t tell us those in Scripture. But He does tell us plenty of things that he does want us to do. We need to start with those. If we are trusting Him, and following Him in the small things, then the grand picture will be obvious. And if it isn’t, then we can make any number of correct choices as long as we are following those things He does tell us to do.

If we look at the list above, we might find that most of the encountering obstacles are self-induced. Identifying the reason/excuse for our not doing what is right is a great start. Then we can pray for God’s help and find others to hold us accountable. Now, let’s all go and do God’s will for us!

I have written a picture books about Ephesians 2:10. It is about living in God’s purpose. It is called Mr. Blue- a Job for You. Mr. Blue finds all kinds of reasons not to step up to the plate. This would be an excellent way to show kids they can serve God by being available.

Please leave a comment about other obstacles you have encountered and how you have dealt with them.

When We Almost Died on Our Honeymoon…

and What I Learned

It was 37 years ago, but I remember it as though it was yesterday. Tim and I were heading up to Mount Baldy, in Southern California, for a short ski trip before our honeymoon cruise that would begin a few days later.

In Southern California 37 years ago, four-wheel-drive SUVs were not as common as they are today. So we were in a rear wheel drive Honda, heading up the mountain. People in Southern California generally don’t know how to drive in snow and ice. (including us)

Mountain Cliff

Mountain Cliff

There had been a storm a few days earlier so this snow was good for skiing. This was a nice day, but the roads were icy in a few areas. We were heading up the mountain, following another car when we came to a sharp turn. We were in the outside lane which hugged the cliff, which was over the valley that was about 1000 feet down.

It so happened that there was ice on the road right on the turn. The driver of the car in front of us stopped on the turn when he saw the ice, and therefore we had to stop also- right on the ice. We began to slide. It was a slow slide, sort of a slow-motion slide. With no guardrail on the road, we envisioned ourselves sliding right over the cliff.

 We were stopped, not able to move forward, yet unintentionally sliding backwards. But yet, God protected us. (I am here writing this, so you know we didn’t go over the cliff.) There was about 3 feet of gravel between the ice in the cliff and that stopped us.

 I learned several great lessons on that trip,most of which I will have to save for another time. But one in particular stands out at the moment. That is, it takes no effort to slide backwards. As we are learning and growing we need to keep making steps forward. If we stop, we may find ourselves going in the wrong direction.

 We don’t have to go fast or take big steps, but we need to keep moving in the right direction, even if it is in small steps. Everything we do should have purpose. Even our rest and relaxation has purpose. It is when we stop moving forward with purpose that we risk sliding backwards. I wrote a series on God’s purpose for us several months ago. You can read that here.

 There are several things that can cause us to stop moving forward. Here are a few of them.

  • Unforeseen obstacles
  • Exhaustion (build rest into your schedule)
  • Not pacing yourself
  • Unforeseen changes
  • Not having the right tools
  • Not having a plan

I will speak to each of these in upcoming blogs. So stay tuned. And don’t find yourself sliding back on the ice!

Do you have a story when you found yourself slipping backward because you weren’t moving forward? I would love to hear it so would you please share it below?