Training Church Volunteers for Effective Ministry
Effective recruitment of volunteer church and ministry workers will depend on:
- the types of training you provide
- the elements you include in your training
- the gaining of maximum participation in training
(1) Pre-Service Training:
After you recruit people and before you actually place them into the ministry position, you should provide them with at least training of the basic skills required for the task and orientation to prepare them for what they will be doing. This training could include observation, classroom instruction, or an internship/apprenticeship. The combinations of the three would be ideal.
(2) In-Service Training:
Training should be an on-going process. Everyone has room to learn and grow. Effective in-service training will include the elements that follow.
(3) Post-Service Debriefing:
People may leave a ministry position for a variety of reasons. To help them for future ministry, take time to sit down with them to discuss what they liked about the ministry they were doing, what they didn't like, and how they can take what they learned into future ministry.
Task Development - to develop skills to effectively minister
Resource Recommendations - to know where they can go for more help
Assessment of Progress - to see a realistic picture of how they are doing and what they could be doing so they can develop a plan to get there
Input from Supervisor - to get insights based on what has been observed in their ministry; to receive encouragement and support (through notes, e-mail, one-on-one, phone); to learn that they are appreciated; to receive help in working through problems as they occur
Nurture of Walk with God - to be strengthened in their heart and not just in their outward skills
Inspiration to Do One's Best - to understand the importance of their job and the core value of pursuing excellence in it; to be challenged to keep their commitments; to learn from the example of others
Need-Based Help - to receive specialized attention in a timely fashion when special needs or situations come up in ministry that are unpredictable or of a crisis nature; to receive help in their own lives when a personal crisis occurs that may prevent them from being effective in ministry
God-Orientation - to make sure they are constantly reminded of the need to serve out of love for God and a desire to bring glory to Him; to be challenged to line up all they do with the Word of God; to understand the role of prayer in ministry
Work ahead. Don't spring opportunities on people at the last minute and expect them to fit it onto their busy schedules. Provide a list of opportunities for a minimum of six months to a year in advance.
Make expectations known for training in the recruitment process as part of their commitment for accepting the position. People need to know what they are committing to in advance which then gives you grounds for holding them accountable.
Remember that many of your workers will have child care needs, perhaps transportation needs, or scheduling conflicts. Accommodate when you can. The more excuses you can free them of, the greater the potential will be for their participation in training.
The question is not if workers need to be trained but how. In today's world, giving workers choices in how to get trained will increase the likelihood of it happening. The days of scheduling a generic training event and expecting most, if not all, of your workers to attend is pretty much over for most churches.
Providing alternative approaches to training communicates that the individual is important and his/her needs and uniqueness matter. Providing choices takes into account the various learning styles, time pressures, and already existing levels of competence. Some options could include:
Providing alternative options will require more coordination on your part but it is well worth the extra time and effort. To maximize the potential in this kind of approach to training you should develop a training plan for each person tailoring topics and means of training to the person. This implies that the person is involved in the process of developing the plan. Make a one year plan that is put in writing and signed by both of you. Your responsibilities are to know what kind of training is available for the various topics and to provide the person with the resources as needed. The person's responsibility is to be faithful in completing the plan. You should also develop a strategy for holding the person accountable such as a 3, 6, 9, and 12 month assessment at which time you can make any necessary revisions to the plan.
- independent study using videos, books, audio tapes or CD's, online courses, correspondence courses, workbooks, etc.
- one-on-one mentorship like a coach ... a more relational approach
- peer support wherein they meet as a team in a support group approach
- snippets of training which are short, impacting statements that come regularly and can be packaged in a variety of formats like e-mail, postcards sent to their homes, phone messages, notes left in their church mailboxes or other places they will be sure to find, etc.
- observation opportunities not just in-house but at other churches that have an effective ministry in the area for which training is needed
- in-house seminars
- outside seminars
More on Ministry Training: Why Don't We Train Everyone for Ministry?