Training Church Volunteers for Effective Ministry

Effective recruitment of volunteer church and ministry workers will depend on the following:

Types of Ministry 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.

Elements Included in Effective Training of Volunteers:

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

AAA's for Gaining Maximum Participation in Training Opportunities:

Advance notice

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.

Alternative approaches

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.

The Staffing Ministry Manual provides some additional input on alternative approaches to training as well as a template for listing possible training resources.

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