There’s one thing that has always given me the confidence to ask a question in a room full of people: The fact that I know there’s probably at least one other person who has the same question but is afraid to ask. An internal whisper of “someone else has to be wondering this, too” seems to creep in my mind just seconds before I courageously shoot my hand in the air.
Throughout the course of just one week, all of us Orange Specialists have had the privilege of answering a ton of questions from NextGen Leaders. I recently reached out to a Youth Pastor to see how things had been going with her since we last connected. While reading her reply I thought, “Someone else has to be wondering this, too.” She said that she was in the process of building a volunteer leadership team. A team where there’s one primary leader responsible for each area of ministry. She was working to build the structure of it through clarifying the vision, expectations, & responsibilities for each leader. Her email ended with “Let me know if you have any tips.”
Well, since I live by the motto of “someone else has to be wondering this, too,” we figured it’d be great to share those tips here. So, if you’re working to pull together a group of high capacity adult leaders to help you carry some of the heavier pieces of ministry, this is for you.
Tips for Building Your Volunteer Leadership Team
Whether you call your leaders “Team Leaders,” “Coaches,” or something else – a volunteer leadership team can consist of a Small Group Leader Coach, Events Team Coach, Tech Team Coach, Social Media Team Coach, Volunteer Team Coach — the list can go on. Or maybe you oversee the entire Next Gen Ministry and your volunteer leadership team oversees one particular grade level ministry—-Nursery Team Lead, Elementary Team Lead, Middle School Team Lead, High School Team Lead.
Leadership Teams look very different depending upon your context. But essentially, these high capacity volunteer leaders take lead on things like recruiting and training other leaders along with taking lead on planning, scheduling, and coordinating. These roles have a pretty big responsibility and can take some time to actually become established. However, when done well, they help to expand the capacity of the primary ministry leader.
If building a volunteer leadership team is something you’re working on or interested in doing, here are a few things that might be helpful to keep in mind as you plan and execute.
It’s essential to ensure volunteer leaders are clear on the vision for the ministry and the way their area makes the vision come to life. When your leaders take on this new role, they’ll become your “vision bearers.” So every time you connect, do these three things:
Cast vision, cast vision, cast vision!
You don’t have to give them the complete run down every time. But if there’s ever something that you’re talking through that connects back to the vision, mention it! Don’t assume they’re connecting the dots. Connect those dots for them.
Leaders should be clear on what their responsibilities are. Even down to having a job description for them. You’ll save yourself a lot of headache down the road if you not only spell out what you expect of them through serving in this capacity, but also what they can expect from you (their leader) as they take this on. People love to know they’re supported and being poured into. To get you started, here’s a link to access our job descriptions. We’ve got them there for kids and youth ministry.
Get out of the way!
Once they’re clear on what they’re supposed to be doing, get out of the way and let them lead. If we don’t get out of the way, they won’t be able to own their new role. Then, all the items on their job description will become recommendations instead of responsibilities. So trust the volunteer leader you selected and let them lead. For the “it’s easier if I just do it myself” personality type, having regular check in meetings can help you get out of the way a bit easier.
If you can, figure out a regular rhythm to meet either over the phone, virtually, or face to face. These check in meetings will help them to know that you aren’t neglecting them and the area they lead. In these meetings they can give you an update on what’s happening in their area and you can provide feedback along with continuing to connect and cast vision. Another thing you can do is check in on them personally. These one on one times are a great way to see how they’re doing personally and to pastor them a bit.
Tip: If you’re meeting virtually, try to encourage them to meet during a time where they can give you about 30 minutes of uninterrupted time. It’s never fun having a meeting with someone while they’re walking through the grocery store.
If you’re asking someone to serve in a high capacity volunteer leadership position but don’t engage or acknowledge their real life, they’ll easily feel used. So don’t forget to pastor them. Provide encouraging messages, notes, emails, phone calls just to check in on them (not the ministry, them!). Call for birthdays, anniversaries, & other special days. Setting a reminder in your phone to do this is extremely helpful. Those kinda things go a really long way.
Volunteer Starter Kit
If you’re looking for more resources to support your volunteers, check out our Volunteer Starter Kit. This free kit comes with two things:
A Volunteer Handbook that you can customize for both your Coaches/Leadership Team and also your general volunteers.
A Small Group Leader Onboarding Kit that can help you systematize the onboarding process of Small Group Leaders. It will also significantly lighten the load of your Small Group Leader Coach.
Want more resources? Check out all we have on Orange Leaders.