The beauty of a church community is the abundance of committed people who have an interest in helping the church achieve its vision and mission.
Volunteers are the engine of the church because they donate the man-hours to ensure everything gets done.
And many people use the volunteer experience to get to know other members of the church community.
Creating a well-run volunteer management program can help ensure a great experience for those volunteers. Furthermore, a structured volunteer orientation process can help ensure a positive experience by helping to prepare them for their new job responsibilities.
So what should be covered in a Volunteer Orientation?
1. History of the Church
People who attend the same church for a long time can typically recite the history of the church.
And, new volunteers should also know when and how the church started.
Sharing pertinent statistics like how many people attended the first service, where the early services were held as compared to current membership and progression of the church gives volunteers a historical perspective.
2. Mission, Vision, and Values
The mission, vision, and values of a church are what steers its direction so it is important for volunteers to understand why the church exists, where it has been, where it currently is and what it hopes to achieve.
This kind of information helps to connect the volunteer to the church mission in an intimate way.
3. Information About the Pastor(s)
New volunteers should know who all the pastors are, where they have been prior to serving this church, where they went to school, information about their family and what responsibilities they have in the church.
This helps give the volunteer a guide for who to go to for additional information and/or to address church-related issues.
4. Church Culture
Every organization has a culture that affects the way information is communicated, how decisions are made and how people interact with each other. Giving a synopsis of church culture helps the volunteer understand the unwritten rules of behavior.
For example, if the church is very traditional the culture may be less tolerant of talking in church than one that is a little more relaxed and contemporary. The goal is to help the volunteer understand the behavioral norms.
5. Do’s and Don’ts of Volunteers
Since everyone comes from different backgrounds we all have a different frame of reference and life experiences.
Volunteers should be given specific instruction on behaviors that are expected and those that are not expected when they represent the church in their volunteer role.
An example of this might be, a volunteer is expected to report for their job at the scheduled time (do) but a volunteer should not park in the reserved parking area (don’t).
As much as can be communicated to the volunteer during orientation and in the church volunteer job description helps with an understanding of expectations and minimizes volunteer issues.
6. Customer Service Standards
Anyone who works in a service industry understands customer service standards. A church volunteer is no different and should become familiar with the expectations for serving church customers (other volunteers, staff or congregation). Reviewing these standards helps the volunteer understand the basic service expectations.
For example, it is important to communicate service expectations for volunteers who work with children – specifically how to manage difficult children or how to respond to challenging parents.
These can be sensitive issues and can be explosive if not handled properly. Take the time to set your volunteers up for success so they know exactly how to respond to any situation.
7. Dress Code
It always helps to communicate what is appropriate and what is not appropriate to wear when servicing in a volunteer capacity. Some churches have very formal dress codes (suits, ties, skirts, jackets) while others are less formal (business casual, jeans) – it just depends on the culture and tradition of the church. Regardless, volunteers should know what is expected of them.
It is important for volunteers to understand the church chain-of-command, not so much to recognize who the boss is but to know who to go to with issues or problems.
An example of this would be, if the volunteer found that the restroom was out of hand soap, they would know the staff employee or volunteer to go to replenish the supplies.
This is so the volunteer doesn’t approach the pastor about soap right before he is getting ready to preach to the congregation. Having a printed organizational chart is also very helpful to show a picture of this.
9. Communication Process
Volunteers need lots of information about events, changes or other things going on with the church so they should know where to find the needed information.
For example, a volunteer should know who to call if they have to miss their scheduled shift or if volunteer schedules are posted on the church website they know to go there for that information.
10. Volunteer Program
Volunteer orientation is a great time to explain the volunteer program and how it supports the volunteers.
Taking a few minutes to explain how to contact the volunteer office and what kinds of services it provides, helps the volunteer understand who, how and when to communicate.
Volunteers are one of the greatest assets a church has. Ensuring they are managed well, receive thorough communication and understand their role as a volunteer, can help set the stage for a fulfilling volunteer experience. And isn’t that the goal?
To simplify your life we have created a PowerPoint Presentation for your volunteer orientation. Simply insert your logo, mission, vision, and other information and you will be ready to present to your volunteers! If you would like to access an editable copy of this PowerPoint Presentation simply click here.
What other things do you discuss in your volunteer orientation program?