Keeping Volunteers Accountable Without Feeling Like Big Brother

You’ve probably faced a scenario similar to this more than once:

You’ve done the work of emailing (maybe even texting) Sunday’s schedule to all your volunteers.

And on Sunday you give them a physical copy of the schedule where everything they need to do is laid our very clearly.

Then the service begins, and all the sudden your volunteers are scrambling and acting like a schedule didn’t exist until *poof* it magically appeared in their hands the moment they needed to execute it.

It’s not a pretty site, and it hurts the effectiveness of the experience for kids.

At the church where I serve, this scenario was becoming especially common in Small Groups.

And it wasn’t that our volunteers are lazy; they’re all great hardworking people who love kids.

The fact of the matter is our church is in a super busy area where volunteers aren’t thinking about Sunday until Sunday.

So we decided not to fight it, and instead figure out a way to prep volunteers within the Sunday experience.

And we added a position called a Small Group Coach.

Here’s our basic definition of a Small Group Coach: they are the Small Group Leaders of the Kids’ Small Group Leaders.

On a practical level, this is specifically what they do every Sunday (this can be done if you have volunteers meet before service or during the service like at our church, which you can learn more about here:How Your Volunteers can Prep, Grow, and Build Relationships…In Service).

We give them a sheet of paper with 4 items:

  1. Encourage: They start by encouraging our Small Group leaders that what they do makes an eternal impact and share a story to drive home the point.
  2. Check-In: They ask the leaders if they have any questions about the Small Group schedule or if they need anything extra.
  3. Coach: They read a twitter-sized quote and ask a simple question to help our leaders grow and get better.
  4. Pray: They ask for prayer requests, write them down, and pray.

Questions 1 & 4 are built around care; we want volunteers to know they’re valuable and valued, rather than just a means to an end (I’ll talk more about this in a future post)

What I want to hone in on is the accountability aspects that come in questions 2 & 3.

Accountability is built into question 2 because when volunteers know they’ll be asked about the schedule, they make sure they’ve looked at it, since they won’t have any excuse if they don’t have everything they need when the kids arrive.

This question also creates space for a caring conversation instead of a tough conversation if a Small Group leader still isn’t executing well.

Instead of accusingly saying: “Why didn’t you prepare?”

You can say: “It looked like you may not have been clear on some parts of the schedule. Don’t hesitate to bring up any questions with your Small Group Coach next week!”

This nudges leaders to be more prepared, while making them feel supported.

Accountability is built into question 3 because you’re keeping volunteers accountable to grow and get better in a non-threatening, non-overwhelming way.

They get to bounce ideas off each other without feeling like they have homework during the week (and oftentimes they’ll come up with ideas the leadership team has never even considered, which is always a plus).

So that’s how we keep volunteers accountable without making them feel like we’re constantly looking over their shoulders like Big Brother.

At the church where I serve, we’re committed to excellence, and accountability is key, but it needs to be done in a loving way.

What are some ways you keep volunteers accountable at your church? Leave a comment!

And if this was helpful, it would be awesome if you passed it on by sharing below or 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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