What Potential Volunteers Want to Know

You need volunteers. You need them in the nursery, greeting at entrances, checking in children, making coffee, running sound, and much more.

So, you try several approaches to get more people to serve.

  • You ask people individually “Hey, I know you’d be a great fit on our greeting team. Would you like to try it out next Sunday?”
  • You ask from the stage (maybe even with a fun video).
  • You send out emails and post information on your church’s website.

Any of those ideas can be effective. However, before you try those approaches you need to consider what potential volunteers are thinking and what questions they need answered.

Here’s what potential volunteers want to know:

#1 – What would they expect me to do if I volunteered?

Potential volunteers need to know what they’re getting themselves into. I doubt you would apply for a job (much less accept it) if you had zero information about the expectations and responsibilities associated with that role.  Potential volunteers feel the same way.

  • How often would I be agreeing to serve?
  • Am I signing up for forever or is there an end date where I can change or stop serving for a while without it being awkward?
  • What does that volunteer role involve (what skills are you looking for)?
  • Who would I be reporting to (what volunteer leader or staff member coordinates that group)?

Develop a brief description for each volunteer role that includes what you expect (how much time before/after a service is required, what skill sets are needed, what personality types are the best fit, any attire expectations, etc.). Post this on your church website and be prepared to include the high points in any communications about this role.

#2 – What if I sign up and realize it’s a bad fit?

You need to give new volunteers a graceful and shame-free way out. If they serve in the bookstore for a couple of Sundays and realize they’re better suited to be a greeter, make that an easy transition.

Let potential volunteers know they can try out a role for a few weeks before making a longer term commitment.

#3 – How do I know which role I should sign up for?

This can’t be just about getting “warm bodies in a spot.” You need to match each individual up with the role he/she is best suited to fill.

You can have them take a personality and/or spiritual gifting test. You could also take 5-10 minutes and talk with the individual.

  • What do you do for a living?
  • What’s your degree in?
  • Do you consider yourself really outgoing or more reserved?

Get to know them and then assign them to a role that looks to be the best fit.

#4 – Why?

Now, most potential volunteers won’t come right out and ask you this question. However, it’s something we all consider at least subconsciously.

Why should I serve?

If you can’t answer that one question, answering all of the others I listed above is a waste of time.

They have children to raise, bosses to report to, errands to run, and a ton of other responsibilities.  If they don’t know why serving is important (for them and for others), then serving won’t be able to compete with all the other items on their to-do lists.  Help them see how they can easily get started and how vital their participation is to the vision of the church.

After all, this isn’t just about why you need people to serve in the nursery. This is about why followers of Christ should serve others.

Weave that answer into your communications about serving at your church. Serving is about putting others ahead of you. It’s about following the example of our Savior. It’s about using our time and talents to honor God and contribute to the Body of Christ.

I’ve grown in my relationship with God, made life-long friends, and enjoyed the feeling that comes from knowing I’ve helped someone else through serving.

Help potential volunteers understand why, remove any mystery about your expectations or the commitment involved, and help new volunteers get acclimated quickly. This isn’t an overnight solution, but if you’ll make the time to answer those questions I’m confident you’ll have more volunteers who’re passionate about serving.

What other questions have potential volunteers asked you before they were ready to start serving?