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How to Coach Your Volunteers

How to Coach Your Volunteers

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Let’s talk about how to coach your volunteers. You may be asking yourself, “what is the difference between coaching your volunteers and training your volunteers?”

I’m glad you asked.

There are many ways to train your volunteers, including: 

  • Large group trainings throughout the year
  • Video trainings sent to the volunteers
  • Emails sent to volunteers with podcasts to listen to or articles to read
  • 1-on-1 onboarding trainings
  • 1-on-1 coaching
  • …and more!

Coaching is a specific form of volunteer training – it is “in the moment” training. It means you are engaged with helping your volunteers grow regularly throughout the year. In the same way that a sports coach will coach a player on the sidelines before sending them back in to keep playing the game, a ministry leader can coach a volunteer on the sidelines before sending them back in.

Here are several tips for how to coach your volunteers effectively:


Make sure the timing is right for coaching your volunteer. If they can’t be pulled away from serving at that moment, or if your feedback would distract them from an important task they are about to do, then wait to provide coaching until an opportune moment appears.

If your volunteer is distracted due to personal matters, then wait to coach them until they are in a better place. Check on them to make sure they are ok.

Sandwich Model

When coaching your volunteers, use the sandwich model to provide constructive feedback. Start by sharing something encouraging, share your constructive feedback, then end on an encouraging note. This way, you “sandwich” your feedback with encouragement. When providing constructive feedback, make sure you give instruction regarding how they can improve. 


Speaking of encouragement, make sure you spend plenty of time encouraging your volunteers as you coach them. Positive feedback reinforces positive behavior. So, if you want them to “keep it up,” then make sure you tell them what a great job they are doing!

Coach Team

If you have reached a point where you have a large volunteer team and you can’t coach them all, then consider raising up volunteer coaches whose primary responsibility is to coach other volunteers. Typically, you want your coach to have 1) experience in that ministry role, and 2) the gifting to be a good coach. Then, as the ministry leader, you can focus on coaching your volunteer coaches. 

Volunteer Health

Sometimes, we get so busy in ministry work that we forget to check on our volunteers. Take time to check on them and their health. How are they doing spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally? Ask questions to try to discern how they are doing. As you talk with them, encourage them to continue to grow spiritually. The temptation for your most active volunteers will be to “pour out” without “being poured into” by others. Make sure they are being fed spiritually throughout the week as they continue serving in your ministry.

Read more articles about volunteer development on the blog at

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