There have been several children’s directors the nine years I’ve been on staff at my current church. While all have been great people, the working...
3 Values You Want Your Volunteers To Embrace
How good are your volunteers? Are they a bunch of all-stars where you couldn't live without them? Or, are they more work than a room full of middle school students? We all want volunteers who show up on time, know exactly what needs to get done, and will never leave us. We want that quality team, that constantly knocks it out of the park, the problem is building a dynamic team of volunteers doesn't just naturally happen. It requires finding people who will embrace the right values that lead to a healthy culture.
What your team values matters because it is a reflection of your leadership and ministry's purpose. If you do not articulate the values your ministry needs then your efforts will face opposition and constant tension. If people value different things it can create a misalignment that will leave you wondering, "Why are we doing this?"
So, what values does your team need to uphold? In addition to the teachings of your Church, your volunteers should value:
INVITING PARENTS INTO THE PICTURE
Whether you work with teens or kids, parents cannot be left in the dark. I often hear (and sometimes feel myself) that all parents want to do is release ALL FORMATION RESPONSIBILITY over to the Church. The reality is that most parents want to be involved, they just don't know how.
While the point person has the authority to require parents to attend and participate, it's the catechist and small group leader that can influence the appropriate change. Volunteers have the power to connect parents with the Church in a relational manner that strengthens a child's formation.
How you can do that is the following:
- Make sure your volunteers have the right contact information
- Give leaders tips and prompts on how to connect best with parents
- Set up an open house where parents meet the leaders
The more you drive home the importance of leaders connecting with parents, the better leaders will be in empowering teens to grow in their faith. When parents and the Church are on the same page, it enables
GROWING IN THEIR OWN FAITH AND SKILL-SET
We're never done growing in our faith, no matter the role that we hold in the local church. Your catechists and small group leaders are called to accompany young people and their families. If they are going to be effective in walking with others, it's critical that you remind them of their own spiritual journey.
Remind your leaders not to pretend to have all the answers. Give them resources and provide them with training opportunities where they can grow in their pastoral, spiritual, intellectual and human formation. Some of the ways you can do that is:
- Running a "book club" that covers an important area of ministry
- Coordinating a day retreat for your leaders only
- Connecting them with classes and courses from the diocese, seminary, or local universities
- Sharing with them the professional development tools you have access to through subscriptions
No matter the resource make sure your leaders see that growing in their own faith will fill them with the knowledge, understanding and confidence they need to lead others through the messiness of life.
SERVING AS A COMMUNITY AND NOT A LONE RANGER
I've come across a lot of smart and passionate catechists who want to do it all on their own. And while it's great to have the talent, if there is not a willingness to collaborate and mentor others your team's unity will be in jeopardy. Whether it's partnering up small group leaders or creating committees having your volunteers understand the value of a team is critical.
When your volunteers work as a team it:
- Shows the young church how they are not meant to travel alone
- Increases the capacity to overcome different obstacles and challenges
- Lightens your burden to fix and address every issue
- Reminds everyone that ministry is more fun together
You can cultivate community amongst the team by:
- Making meetings and gatherings more social
- Highlighting the different gifts of team members as a resource to others
- Inviting the team to pray before and after programs and events
When you create community amongst volunteers your ministry reflects the larger body. More people will begin to see why working together matters and the ministry naturally becomes welcoming.
I'm sure there are other values we can add to the list, but over the years I've seen these three help us reach more teens and endure challenging seasons. No matter what your values are as a ministry, make sure they first center around Christ and that you constantly communicate them in what you say and what you do.
What are some of the values that your ministry intentionally upholds and why? Share in the comments below.