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Training and developing people is one of the most important responsibilities managers have, and training volunteers is no different.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of a church and most ministries would cease to exist without this dedicated free labor pool.
This dedicated workforce represents the core values of a church and needs to have a clear understanding of what that means.
For instance, for a volunteer to be successful, they need to understand the church’s core mission, vision, and values. This valuable insight is what influences work ethic and behaviors.
It is the organization’s responsibility to make sure volunteers have the tools and training to carry out required tasks confidently.
Volunteer roles are broken into two areas, church values, and tactical job responsibilities. Volunteers need to understand both to be effective in their role.
A great volunteer training experience is what makes great organizations.
4 Reasons To Train Volunteers
1. Consistency in Practice
Consistency reinforces outcomes. Churches strive to provide a great experience for members and visitors and consistency in practice is what makes that possible.
Training is the foundation for consistency and creating a culture of quality – something all organizations should strive for.
Volunteers who have the same learning experience will perform tasks and respond to the work environment in a similar way.
When you train your volunteers, you should use the same curriculum and training technique to ensure a consistent experience.
This consistency in training will result in everyone doing things the same way – which ensures consistency in practice.
For instance, when creating training for children’s workers, share the same tips, tools, and expectations for interacting with children – as well as their parents.
This will ensure that all workers know how to respond to that disruptive child or the demanding parent in the same manner. This proactive training will also ensure workers know how to respond to challenging interactions with parents or kids.
2. Confidence in Performing Job Duties
We have all had that awkward experience of being new to a job and not knowing exactly what to do.
Self-confidence comes from an internal trust and belief in one’s ability to do things well and that assurance is developed through training, experience, and skill practice.
Volunteer confidence is an expected outcome of the training experience and improves the satisfaction that comes with contributing to the success of an organization.
For example, a children’s worker who is prepared for dealing with an angry parent will be able to address their issues with confidence and will be self-assured that they are performing their job in the manner the organization would expect.
Make sure you script volunteers for what to say to parents who challenge ministry policies.
3. Assessment Of Performance
Volunteers (like employees) typically perform to the level of training that they receive.
Another advantage of training is the opportunity to assess a volunteer’s performance against training objectives.
It is difficult to say if someone is or isn’t doing a good job if there isn’t anything to compare their performance to.
For example, if a volunteer is asked to help in the office by answering the telephone, they can easily be assessed on how well they are following a detailed telephone script that instructs them on how to answer caller questions.
Again, consistency in practice is the goal. Provide volunteers with the tools and training to be consistent at what they do.
4. Volunteers Feel Valued
Volunteers give freely of their time because they have a passion for the church mission. This valued asset expects nothing in return but does appreciate feeling valued for what they do.
Volunteers appreciate the time and effort that goes into an organized and effective training experience.
Structured training not only helps to prepare volunteers for job responsibilities – but also makes them feel valued.
A great training experience is created by proactively sharing information that will help the volunteer in their role.
Determine training points that help the volunteer understand the culture of the organization, appropriate people interactions, customer service standards, safety and equipment usage, and necessary supplies or materials.
Anything that the volunteer needs to know to safely and effectively perform job responsibilities is an important training point.
Create An Orientation Process
Formalize your church volunteer training program and develop an orientation process. Do this by providing a global orientation (who we are as a church) as well as a job-specific orientation (how to be a church usher).
Training can be delivered through an organizational orientation class followed by an orientation that is specific to the area they will be performing job tasks.
The training can be in a group setting or one-on-one – it doesn’t matter. Just make sure the volunteer is given the opportunity to ask questions for clarity.
Don’t forget to create a detailed volunteer job description that will reinforce training points.
Who Should Do Church Volunteer Training?
Every church is different. Some are small and may benefit from the pastor doing the training. Some churches may have a lead volunteer who can help with training. While other churches are large enough to have paid employees who can help.
Think about your specific resources and try to identify someone who can communicate effectively, passionately, and clearly the culture and expectations of your church.
If you are lucky enough to have a volunteer coordinator, you can use this person to help develop your volunteer training program.
Volunteer training is a critical aspect of managing volunteers and should be coordinated thoroughly and consistently.
Volunteers donate countless hours to help churches fulfill their mission.
That should be enough reason to invest the time into developing a comprehensive volunteer training program!
If you are a member of SCM you can access a volunteer orientation template and volunteer job descriptions by logging in here.
If you are not a member, you can access our growing library of forms, documents, and job descriptions here.