Communicating with Volunteers so They Actually Hear You

Have you ever had an experience where felt like you communicated with your volunteers very clearly, and then they acted like they never heard you?

I know I’ve had that experience on many occasions like:

“Be at church 15 minutes early for a team huddle and…volunteers arrive 5 minutes late” or

“We have a meeting for all volunteers after church on Sunday and… 10% of my volunteers actually show up” or

“Make sure you sit with the kids in your Small Group during our Large Group time and… 1 Small Group Leader actually does it.”

These experiences make you want to bang your head against a wall, or shout and scream.

But there are some more practical things you can start doing to communicate so volunteers actually hear you.

Practical Step #1: Hold volunteers accountable

This is by far the most important thing to do.

“But,” you might be thinking, “they’re volunteers, we’re not paying them and they’re giving generously of their personal time, so how can I keep them accountable?”

And the best answer is: Just give it a shot, and you’ll be surprised…as long as you do it the right way.

You need to be loving, not heavy handed, about accountability.

Say you asked your volunteers to be 15 minutes early; a way to hold them accountable is to text every volunteer who hasn’t arrived 15 minutes prior to service and ask, “Are you almost here?”

After a few weeks of sending that simple text, you’ll begin to notice volunteers arriving much more on time.

Practical Step #2: Always make communication a 2-way street

I heard someone say, “The greatest mistake people making in communication is believing that it has occurred.”

The point is: just because you sent an email or a text doesn’t mean that communication has taken place.

People miss emails; they read a text in the midst of doing something and forget about it.

So the only way for you to know communication has occurred is for you to actually get a response to your communication.

So if you have a big volunteer meeting coming up, make sure you hear from every volunteer leading up.

It may take 3 emails, 2 texts, a phone call and 3 weeks, but stay persistent until you get an actual response.

And when I say persistent, I don’t mean in a nagging way, I mean be polite, plan ahead, spread it out, and be understanding no matter how many times you’ve already communicated something.

Practical Step #3: Celebrate when volunteers hear you

Let’s go back to the scenario where you’ve asked your volunteers to sit with their Small Group during the Large Group time…and only 1 does.

Celebrate that person in front of everyone!

Let them know that sitting with their Small Group matters.

It let’s those kids know you’re there for them, and not just babysitting.

It communicates that the worship, Bible Story, and application are important.

When you do this, it won’t be long before all of your volunteers are sitting with their kids just like that first volunteer.

So when you communicate with your volunteers make sure you keep them accountable, turn communication into a 2-way street, and celebrate when you see a volunteer who has heard you!

What are some ways you communicate with volunteers so they hear? Leave a comment.

And if this was helpful to you, please pass it along by sharing with others on Facebook!

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Brandon Horst

I am passionate about family, especially my amazing wife, Hannah, my daughter, Emery, and my son Tristan. I am also passionate about helping Family Ministry Leaders lead better. I love new ideas, innovation, and collaborating with other leaders to make those ideas and innovations better. I currently serve as the Next Gen Pastor at Centerpointe Church in Fairfax, VA.

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Brandon Horst

I am passionate about family, especially my amazing wife, Hannah, my daughter, Emery, and my son Tristan. I am also passionate about helping Family Ministry Leaders lead better. I love new ideas, innovation, and collaborating with other leaders to make those ideas and innovations better. I currently serve as the Next Gen Pastor at Centerpointe Church in Fairfax, VA.

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