As we continue on into a new semester, have you checked in with your volunteers lately? I know you may be thinking, “Lol what volunteers?” but no matter how big or small your team is, now is a great time to check in with them to share updates, cast vision for the year, and equip them in their serving roles.
One January, I had the opportunity to speak at a local church’s mid-year children’s ministry volunteer training, and the leader, Caroline, did such a great job, I wanted to share about the event! If you’re looking to host a mid-year volunteer training, keep some of these ideas in mind. (And find even more volunteer ideas and resources here!)
Show Appreciation – As soon as volunteers walked through the doors, they were greeted with a spread of some yummy snacks and a small volunteer gift. Showing volunteers appreciation right away helps set the tone for the entire training and reminds volunteers they are important, not just for how they serve, but for who they are. (Providing a small snack, even something as simple as a fruit tray, is one of my 8 tips for hosting an all-star volunteer meeting! Find all 8 here.)
Start With Wins – Caroline started off her mid-year volunteer training by celebrating the wins from the previous year. She shared about salvation numbers but also about discipleship steps, spiritual growth, and moments when God showed up in the lives of their kids. She also invited volunteers to share about any celebrations they had seen. Kicking things off with the celebrations told everyone this was not going to be another boring meeting, and Caroline made sure her volunteers knew exactly why they were there and the importance of their role.
Update Policies and Procedures – After the high of the celebrations, Caroline went straight into any policy changes and procedural updates. Since most of these volunteers had started serving with her the August before, there were very few brand new volunteers. This allowed Caroline to only cover changes to the current policies rather than going over everything. For the volunteers who were brand new, they received a copy of the volunteer handbook that shared all the details. Sharing about policy and procedures early on helped prevent any boredom or long-meeting fatigue in her volunteers.
Build Excitement – After the mundane (but necessary) policies and procedures chat, Caroline ramped up the energy again by building excitement for the future. She shared about their VBS theme and plans, upcoming teaching series, and any special events that may require volunteers outside of Sunday mornings. She reiterated the vision of the ministry and shared goals for the year that would help them see that vision come to life.
Offer Specialized Training – This is where I got to come in! Caroline offered 2 breakout sessions for her volunteers, with 2-3 topics happening during each. I taught nursery and preschool volunteers about engaging littles according to how they are developmentally wired and I taught a session with middle and high school students about leading as a youth volunteer. Volunteers got to choose which breakout they attended for a focused time of leadership growth. (Psst – I’d love to join you at YOUR next volunteer training to help equip and encourage your team! Learn more about how we can partner together – in-person or digitally – here.)
Give Volunteers a Voice – After the breakout sessions, volunteers had the opportunity to not only ask questions and offer feedback, but to also share something they learned in the training or at the breakout sessions. This opportunity helps volunteers know they have a voice in your ministry and that you care about their spiritual and leadership development too.
Thanks Caroline, for inviting me to be part of such an important event in your ministry calendar, and great job equipping your team for the year ahead!
And if you’d like to connect about how I can help train your teams, volunteers, or leadership (in-person or digitally), check out this page and let’s talk about options!