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Getting the right people on your church rota

Article by Adam Johannes
CEO, ChurchInsight

Getting the right people on your church rota

Volunteering for the church is one of the most rewarding experiences possible. Knowing that you’re giving back to the community, giving back to your church and sharing the experience with like-minded people makes the experience all the more enjoyable. So how do you go about getting the less confident members to stand up and get involved? There will be people sitting with you every week that want nothing more than to put their skills to good use but struggle with putting themselves forward and it could be these people that make the biggest difference to your projects.

Give people an opportunity to volunteer

The best way to get people involved is to give them as much opportunity as possible to put themselves forward. If they’re too nervous to put their hand up in front of a crowd of people it might be easier to let them contact you privately, or just write their name on a list. So, instead of just asking for help in the congregation, try putting it out in the newsletter, leaving a signup sheet and even speaking to everyone on an individual basis. The more you talk to people about the kind of work they’re able to do the more you’ll be able to pinpoint which tasks would suit them best. Someone who is more shy with crowds of people might feel more comfortable getting involved in the church administration or something a little more hands on.

Make it easy for people to serve

Likewise, you need to make it an easy task getting involved in volunteering. People don’t want to be jumping through hurdles just to be able to help out for an hour at the weekend. The hard work and boring tasks needs to be for church management to complete. People are happy to give up their time to do something labour intensive but they’re less happy to be completing form after form with nothing going back into the community. So do as much of the administrative stuff on their behalf and they’ll feel that little bit more special, that extra bit more wanted and more likely to work an extra half hour.

Don’t ask for too much from the get go

If someone turns up and isn’t enjoying themselves or doesn’t feel useful they won’t want to go again but it can be difficult to get out of something you’ve committed to. Spending their time doing something they’re not getting the most out of means they’re less likely to volunteer when something more their cup of tea does come their way. Giving an open invite to volunteer jobs that are ongoing gives them more of a chance to get stuck in knowing they’ll only have to stay for an hour.

Hard work pays off

We all know this and the best way to increase people’s willingness to work hard is to give them praise where praise is due. Making sure that volunteers feel loved and appreciated inspires hard work and also inspires other to push forwards. Taking that extra bit of time to give thanks to your volunteers on an individual scale ensures they know they’re being noticed. As much as we enjoy volunteering and the good it does for others, we all have the natural instinct of feeling needed and appreciated. Those members of your congregation that have taken a step back from volunteering will also see this and feel that little bit more inclined to step forward.

Communicate what is needed

People are less likely to step forward if they think other people will be better suited to the job or if they think there will be too many people helping out anyway. In order to pique somebody’s interest you want to make sure they’re feeling like they fit the bill. Instead of asking for volunteers try asking for people with a specific skill set, personality type or knowledge pool. If you need people to meet and greet the public, mention it! If you need someone strong to carry planks around, let them know! If you’ve got a lot of books that need sorting alphabetically, bring it up! Better yet, bring up all the projects at once and people will pick the one they are most suited for. The last thing you want is for someone to feel alienated because they’re not contributing.

Follow up on offers

If someone offers to volunteer then make sure you follow it up. Talk to them about what the church is expecting, but also about they are expecting to gain from the experience! Be clear and concise with the tasks that are at hand so that they know exactly what they’re letting themselves in for and also give them the chance to change their mind. If they’re expecting one thing and end up having to do a completely different task then it isn’t fair for anybody involved. Likewise, you need to know what they’re expecting to be doing and what they’re hoping to get out of the experience. If they’ve got wild ideas about how it’s going to go then it’s better for you to let them down more gently. It also helps to explain why you have set the project into action. Knowing why the task is so important and what will be gained by completing it gives more of a sense of belonging.

Remember what it’s all about

Finally, don’t forget why you’re all involved in this and what has brought everybody together and that is God. By praying for volunteers, you will accentuate the importance of helping out and just how much it is appreciated by everyone involved. Building a great sense of unity is an amazing way to involve even the most self conscious of your congregation and can build your church rota into a force to be reckoned with.

Adam Johannes, 28/06/2017