Three Ways to Empower Your Volunteers

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September brings fresh opportunities to serve the children of your church and energize their faith.

However, if you want to succeed in this sacred task, your focus shouldn't be on the children but on your volunteers.

They are the secret to a thriving ministry.

Here's my collection of Tips, Tricks, and Tools to help you take a good care of your volunteer force.

TIP: MAKE THEM FEEL APPRECIATED

Notice the word feel.

You may think that you're conveying your gratitude to your team mates and behind-the-scene helpers, but do they feel appreciated?

Does your appreciation get across and touch them in a meaningful way that matters to them?

One way I try to hit the "bull's eye" is by having my volunteers fill out a quick questionnaire that lets me better know them as individuals.

This way, when I want to express my appreciation, I can say thank you in their unique language.

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Here are some questions you may want to include in your volunteer application. These questions will help you get to know your volunteers better, and discover ways to make them feel appreciated.

  • What is your date of birth? (send a birthday card)

  • When did you begin volunteering? (send an anniversary card)

  • What are your interests/hobbies? (meaningful gift)

  • What is your favorite fast food chain? (meaningful gift)

  • What is your favorite candy? (meaningful gift)

  • Fun fact (incorporate these in social media posts during volunteer appreciation month—or any time)

  • Who is your hero? **

  • What is your favorite Bible verse? **

  • What is your current occupation? **

  • Who did you dream of becoming when you were a child? **


** We use these questions to create KidMin Superheroes Cards described in this blog post. Here's what they look like:

If you like these and want to use them in your ministry, check them out here.

TRICK: APPRECIATION CHECKLIST

Let's be honest—we all want and need to feel valued for who we are, and recognized for our contributions and accomplishments.

It’s important for your volunteers to know that they are making a difference in the lives of children.

It's equally important for them to know that their contribution is noticed and appreciated.

Problem is—you are busy, which means that regular volunteer appreciation gets pushed to the back of your mind, and your to-do-list.

To help me stay on top of my appreciation game, I created this simple weekly checklist that reminds me to recognize, appreciate, and empower my volunteers.

If you like it, feel free to download it and use it to make your volunteers feel appreciated and valuable.

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TOOL: ICE BREAKER GAME

Yesterday, my team and I wrapped up a series of our fall orientation events. (We always offer two identical trainings to make sure our volunteers have a couple of options to choose from.)

We kicked off our trainings with the What Do We Have in Common? ice-breaker. Everyone (including our introverted volunteers) loved this game. It was fun to see all the interaction and to watch the energy in the room go up. Here's what we did:

Everyone got a pen and a game-sheet (see below).

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They were given 5 minutes to find one person for each of the criteria on the game-sheet.

Once they find someone who matches them, they need to write that person's name in the blank line, and then resume their search for the next person they have something in common with.

Because both times we had fairly large crowds, I told them they cannot have the same person's name written twice. This, of course, encouraged them to mingle with more people.

When the time was up, the person with the most names on their game-sheet got this fun prize, and then we talked about what we all have in common: our desire to help children fall in love with Jesus and discover His wonderful plan for their lives.

Feel free to use this game with your volunteers. Simply download the game-sheet, and make enough copies for everyone.

I guess, I should also mention that during the second training we had a tie. But we quickly settled it with the old-fashioned Rock-Paper-Scissors contest, which was fun to watch.

Wishing you all the best as you continue to energize your volunteers.

Dema Kohen

Founder of WeAreKidMIN. Having spent 25+ years in children's ministry, Dema is an expert in making children laugh, creating engaging content and sounding just like Gru (putting that Ukrainian accent to good use).