11 Practices Of The Most Effective Volunteer Your Church Could Ever Have
I want to tell you about a lady named Sally. That is not her real name as she wishes to remain anonymous. However, what makes Sally unique is that she, in my opinion, is the most effective volunteer at Fellowship Bible Church. Sally leads a discipleship class of over 30 4th and 5th grade girls. This class was established because our leadership felt this was a pivotal time in the life of young girls and wanted to provide them a unique environment for spiritual growth.
Everything rises and falls on leadership and this class has been a HUGE success and is wildly popular. The girls can’t wait to get for each Sunday. I had to find out why. Recently, I sat down with Sally in hopes of understanding her best practices. What I discovered needs to passed on to anyone in leadership. Here were her thoughts:
- Intentionality – Sally has two objectives for her class. First, she desires to see the girls loving Jesus and knowing how special and how loved they are by Him. Secondly, God doesn’t play favorites and He makes everyone feel like they are the most important person in the world. Following the example of Jesus, Sally attempts to make each child feel like they are the most important girl in the world.
- Prayer - Sally says, “Prayer is the foundation of every class…It is a huge responsibility to get kids excited. You must empty yourself.” One of her specific prayers is that “I ask God for the key to every girl’s heart.”
- Personal Growth – As Sally told me, “You can’t give away what you do not have.” Sally is deeply committed to her personal relationship with Jesus and has a passion for His Word. This overflows to the girls in her class. She wants them to have their own encounter with God as well.
- High Opinion Of Others – Sally feels that starting in 4th grade, young girls are at a place of taking ownership of their relationship with God. This period in their life is especially true for girls raised in the church. Sally feels they are starting to develop the concept of what a real relationship is and are ready to begin seeing that relationship as vertical rather than horizontal.
- Provide Meaningful Content – As Christian leaders, we often default to not challenging young people with challenging biblical concepts. Sally feels this is a mistake. She says, “You must understand your audience but don’t dumb it down…Give them the real deal early on and God will water those seeds.” Sally goes on to add that “They’re excited and hungry at this age. Don’t hold back.” A benefit of this approach is that it creates great dialogue. The environment is safe and the girls feel they can ask anything.
- Preparation – Throughout the week leading up to class, Sally is extremely proactive. In addition to having a constant dialogue with God concerning the girls in the class, she sends dozens of hand-written notes, texts, and emails to the girls. Often these notes regard principles that may have been initially over their heads or concerns expressed in class.
- KNOW The Girls – Sally says that God has revealed to her how much He deeply loves each of these girls. She feels how excited Jesus is about what can happen in their lives. As a result, she wants to know what excites each girl and how to nurture that. As a result, she created a……….
- Student Of The Week – Sally told me, “Jesus takes such an interest in who we are that we need to take an interest in each other.” Therefore, each week one lucky girl is designated as Student Of The Week. They are given an opportunity to describe what makes them truly unique. Girls have played the flute, brought in lizards, chickens, goats, and done a variety of other things. Each girl’s uniqueness is celebrated.
- Energy And Ownership - Each girl is given something to do. It’s their class. Some make copies, others setup. Three or four girls are selected to pray in each class. The Bible story is communicated in some creative manner the girls can assist in like a skit or group poster. Sally also feels there is energy in the Words Of Life. Each week the girls are taught to sign a bible verse. Sally says, “God is so fun that He wants to see the girls up and moving. Also, (these truths are) reinforced through seeing, hearing, and touching.”
- Teen Helpers – Girls do not want to leave Sally’s class. Therefore, as a matter of necessity they created and discovered the value of teen helpers of which my daughter is one. The girls in the class have administrative duties. The teen helpers’ responsibilities are relational. There just is to love the girls. Sally states they bring energy to the class and “a priceless perspective.” The elementary girls really look up to and are greatly influenced by the teenagers.
- Organizational Support - Your most talented leaders should have guidelines, not rules. The church leadership deserves much credit by not forcing Sally into following the curriculum that everyone else does. They give her much room for creativity like live animals in the church. They recognize the unique giftedness of Sally and the results her class produces.
In conclusion, Sally describes her class as “organized chaos” but the results are undeniable. The girls LOVE Sally’s class and it is the “can’t miss” event of their week. As she says, “The female heart whether young or old is a tender thing.” No one shepherds these hearts better than Sally.
Pastors and church leaders, use the list provided above to train your volunteers. If you do, you too may be privileged to have the most effective volunteers a church could ever have.
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