Gabe George on 7 Steps to Great Volunteers

Gabe George at Seeds Conference

At Seeds Conference, Gabe George of Church on the Move (Tulsa, OK) discussed 7 steps to great volunteers.

If you want to develop great volunteers, follow these steps.

  1. What is your mission?
    For us, children’s ministry is about the kids. If any decision conflicts with that statement, the right answer is clear.
  2. Get your systems in order.
    If you want people who are sharp and capable, you have to have your systems in order. If people come to serve and see gaping holes in how you do things, they may defect not because they don’t care but because it looks like you don’t. Volunteers like to know their place. Systems provide that. Church needs to be safe. Systems provide that. If you don’t have systems, you are asking for it.

Those are two things that I think must be done before you ever ask for volunteers. Here is what you do after you’ve got the basics covered.

  1. Cast the vision.
    People don’t respond to needs. They respond to vision. Vision captures people. When you are dealing with volunteers, you must cast the vision often, often, often. A  lot of our vision is systems.
  2. Have a code of ethics.
    A code of ethics is a list that covers anything that is a deal breaker about serving. And we have volunteers sign the code of ethics in front of a pastor. You determine what this is for you. Clear guidelines make it easy to enforce expectations.
  3. Deal with problems.
    You can not be afraid to deal with problems. And problems come from people. It is difficult to look at someone and say, “I’m sorry. This isn’t working.” As Joyce Meyer says, “Do it afraid!” if necessary. You need to realize that you are part of something that is bigger than you. You have to be bold.
  4. Put them in the right spot.
    Volunteers all have different kinds of gifts. You have the ones who want to stay behind the scenes and the ones who want the microphone. The funny thing is not all of the people who want the microphone should have the microphone. Our kids are not lab rats for you to develop yourself as a speaker.
  5. Be followable.
    There is one thing I’ve seen a lot of in children’s ministry, and it is the guy in the room that others can’t relate to and say, “Well, he is the kids guy.” You don’t have to be corny. You can teach with authority. Just because you teach kids, doesn’t mean that you have to act like you are a child. There is a place for that, but more importantly, you need to be followable. Children’s ministry needs leaders. Children’s ministry needs men (and I think the women agree). And if you want men to volunteer, you need to act like a man. I’ve learned that you can reach kids better if you just act like a man. So ask if you are someone who can be followed. You can’t just be a friend.

That is how we do it at Church on the Move.

Further Reading:
2012 Church Conference Calendar