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Creating A Healthy Volunteer Culture

by Jenilee Hurley

You finally just figured out your recruiting strategy, and you have a plan in place. But what happens after the volunteers commit and show up?

Creating a healthy volunteer culture requires a plan and requires some hard work, but if you are willing to put in the effort, the results will be worth the investment.

Create Clarity. Before you even launch your recruiting strategy, create clarity around what you are asking people to do. Answer the hard questions:

  • What are your vision and goals for your ministry?
  • What are the roles, responsibilities and expectations of your leaders?
  • What policies are in place that leaders need to know about and follow?
  • What is the preferred way for a leader to step back from leading?

I learned it is easier to make good pre-decisions and have difficult conversations up front rather than dealing with problems reactively down the road. Forcing yourself to write out goals and expectations for your ministry helps volunteers know exactly what is being asked of them. Remove the guesswork and give clarity.

Create Opportunities for Growth. Once you have clearly stated your goals and expectations, you need to create opportunities for your leaders to grow. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are your leaders meetings just informational or are they opportunities to learn and grow? When you think about your leaders meetings are you learning as a group?
  • Are you inviting them into conversations and experiences that challenge their faith on a personal level?
  • Are they learning the nuances of teenage culture and discovering creative ways to invest in a few?

Growing people grow people. When you create opportunities for your leaders to grow, it has a domino effect. When we challenge leaders, they will grow. When they grow, they will challenge their small groups, which will grow as a result. To grow my leaders, I led them through books together, such as Lead Small, Almost Christian, Sticky Faith, and Strengthsfinder 2.0. How are your leaders growing personally, corporately, and as leaders of kids and students?

Create Opportunities for Fun. Fun is a catalyst for community. Your leaders may not even know each other before they come on the team, but add a little fun into the equation and it will create trust and unity. Shared experiences, inside jokes, and memorable stories among your leaders can be the fuel to persevere when ministry turns tough. Sometimes you need to creatively and strategically plan fun into your leader gatherings; other times, you just need to intentionally look for the memories as they are being made.

We don’t just want to fill holes; we want to unleash leaders who will be part of the faith legacy of kids and students. That may seem like a daunting task, and sometimes it will appear impossible. In the moments when we feel helpless and hopeless, we have to remember that the God of the universe cares infinitely more than we ever will. So pray like it depends on God, but work like it depends on you. Be clear. Grow together. Have fun.

Jenilee most recently served as the children’s and youth pastor at National Community Church (NCC) in Washington, DC. At NCC, she was charged with making family ministry programming happen across all seven locations. As someone driven by life change, Jenilee is passionate about engaging kids and teens in the adventure of faith and helping them discover who Jesus is.

Now, she has headed to a new adventure in Durham, North Carolina, where she will be cheering on her Blue Devil husband as he begins at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, as well as continuing her ministry through writing, encouraging young leaders, and dominating the Durham corn hole circuit.


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