How to Lovingly Hold Volunteers Accountable When They Don’t Show Up
Do you ever have volunteers who don’t show up when they’re scheduled or they show up consistently late?
At the church where I serve, it happens much more often than we’d like.
It’s super frustrating, but at the same time how can you hold people accountable who are volunteering their time for free?
You certainly can’t give an ultimatum: “Start showing up when you’re scheduled and be on time or else…”
And you don’t want to continually harass volunteers about it.
But at the same time, if you ignore it, the quality of your ministry suffers.
When people aren’t where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there, you and your on-time volunteers pay the price.
Which mean you can’t just give up on accountability either.
Instead, the challenge is to keep volunteers accountable in a way that’s loving and may not even feel like accountability (even though it is).
While we haven’t completely solved that challenge, we have put a couple strategies in place that have really increased accountability.
The icing on the cake for these 2 strategies is that they’re so simple you can literally put them in place this week if you wanted to.
Strategy 1: Text volunteers when they’re supposed to be there on Sunday if they aren’t there.
For example, we ask volunteers to be at church for our 11:00 am service at 10:45 am.
I’ll send a text to any volunteer who isn’t in our huddle at 10:45 asking, “Are you almost here?”
This can be you, but it doesn’t have to be; it doesn’t even have to be a single person depending on the size of your church.
Whoever does it, you probably don’t want them to be responsible for 12-15 volunteers max.
As your volunteers realize that every time they’re late, someone will notice and send them a text, you’ll start to notice people showing up on time with much more consistency.
Strategy 2: Text or call volunteers on Monday after they don’t show up to serve
If a volunteer doesn’t show up at all when they’re scheduled, either text or call them on Monday.
Be careful to lead the communication with trust, rather than guilt.
Instead of saying, “You didn’t show up to serve yesterday, and it really hurt the team.” say, “I noticed you were scheduled to serve yesterday and didn’t make it; is everything okay?”
This lets them know you missed them, but also gives them an opportunity to explain what happened.
Sometimes they simply forgot, other times an emergency came up.
Either way, you get an opportunity to coach them or minister to them, rather than pile on guilt that they didn’t serve when they were supposed to.
As your volunteers realize that every time they miss a Sunday, they’ll be missed and someone will get in contact with them, they’ll become more consistent and/or begin to communicate much better if they aren’t going to make it.
We’ve also found that using this approach helps prevent people from exiting out the back door of the church because when a volunteer is going through a tough time, we know about it and can walk with them rather than one Sunday after they haven’t shown up for a couple month realizing they’re gone, not just from volunteering but the church.
How do you keep volunteers accountable at your church? Leave a comment!
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