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How to Onboard Church Volunteers

How to Onboard Church Volunteers

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Churches tend to focus heavily on recruiting volunteers, but not so much on how to onboard church volunteers. This is a huge mistake. Why? Because onboarding volunteers is the first crucial step in developing your ministry team!

Your goal should be to create an incredible experience for your new volunteer, while also streamlining your process so that it takes less effort on your part. While every ministry will want to tailor their onboarding process to fit their specific ministry, the ideas and process outlined below will prove helpful to every ministry leader who wants to onboard their volunteers with excellence.

Step 1: Immediate Contact

After a potential volunteer expresses interest, make sure to take advantage while their interest level is high. The ministry leader should call or text them 24-48 hours from when they first expressed interest. The goal should be to set up a time to talk on the phone or meet in-person to discuss the serving opportunity. Meeting in-person is always preferred, if possible.

Step 2: Exploratory Meeting

Before this meeting, send them a short survey to assess their gifting. Once you meet together, start your time by getting to know them, hearing their story, and spending time discerning their ministry strengths and passions.

After you’ve had a chance to get to know them at a deeper level, then share a little bit about yourself, including your family and your role. Take time to cast vision for “the why” for your ministry. Don’t rush this part – come prepared with several impactful stories to share and a clear, compelling reason why people would be excited to join your ministry team.

The vision casting for your ministry should:

  • Show how your ministry’s efforts are a part of the church’s mission.
  • Creates trust and transparency regarding what the ministry does.
  • Inspire them to join your ministry and make an impact.
  • Answer the question – what’s in it for them? (make an impact, community, etc)
  • Take their enthusiasm and confidence to the next level.

After casting vision, then share the volunteer job description with them. Walk through it line-by-line, so that they understand the serving responsibilities and commitment. Ask them to pray about the opportunity and follow up with them via phone a few days later to see if they are ready to join the team.

Step 3: Training

For this part of the training, I recommend utilizing a video training platform like MinistryGrid to help guide volunteers through your training processes. Your training videos should cover topics like:

  • The mission of the church
  • How their serving role fits into the mission of the church
  • Ministry policies and procedures
  • Role specific training
  • Child safety training (if applicable)

After completing the training videos, ask them to fill out a short assessment quiz that tests their knowledge retention from the training videos. Include a few additional questions in the quiz as well, such as:

  • What is your shirt size?
  • Do you have any food allergies?
  • What is your favorite fun activity?
  • What headshot picture would you like us to use for your ChurchTeams profile? (attach file here)
  • Do you have a family picture that you would like to add for your family as well? (attach file here)

If the volunteer will need to complete a background check, then once they have completed the video training, send them a background check link.

Step 4: Communication Systems

For this step, add your new volunteer to your communication channels for volunteers. Make sure you introduce them and celebrate them with your current volunteer team!

Step 5: Initial Serving

Once the new volunteer is ready to start serving, schedule them for their first date of serving. On that first day, make sure to meet them early, preferably at the entrance doors. Give them a welcome bag with:

  • A ministry T-shirt
  • A name tag
  • A thank you letter from the ministry leader and pastor
  • A handout card with the mission of the church on it
  • A contact info card for the ministry leader(s)
  • A nice gift (ex: a tumbler with the church logo on it)

On their first day, schedule them to shadow a skilled mentor. Make sure to train this mentor in advance of giving them a training assignment. After shadowing a mentor, then place the volunteer into their ministry role. After they have served in their new position for the first time, send them a short assessment via text to see how their experience went.

If you get any uncertain or negative feedback in the response, make sure to follow up with them about it. Keep the assessment short – it can be as simple as a survey with these questions:

  • On a scale of 1-10, rate your overall experience during your first time serving with (insert ministry name).
  • How friendly were the other volunteers that you served with?
  • Did you find your first experience serving in (insert ministry name) to be enjoyable? Why or why not?
  • How prepared did you feel before serving in this role for the first time?
  • Is there anything we can do to improve the volunteer onboarding process for (insert ministry name)?
  • What is one thing you look forward to God doing while serving with (insert ministry name)?

Over the first five times that they serve, make sure to check in with them each week while they are serving to see how things are going. If you have a large number of volunteers, then consider recruiting a volunteer coach(es) who will regularly check on all of your volunteers and ensure that the new volunteers are getting the support they need during their first few times of serving. If you have multiple volunteer coaches, then try to designate one as the First Serve Leader and assign them to check in on all of the new volunteers.

After they have served five times in their new role, send the new volunteer a short survey to get their feedback before they have officially settled into their new role. Questions on the survey could include:

  • Name and contact info
  • How often are you able to attend worship services on Sundays?
  • What have you enjoyed the most so far about serving in (insert ministry name)?
  • What one change would you suggest to make your serving experience with (insert ministry name) even more enjoyable?
  • Before and after each time you serve with (insert ministry name), how do you feel?
  • When serving with (insert ministry name), do you feel like you are contributing to the mission of (insert church name) to develop fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ?
  • Do you feel connected with and supported by your ministry leader?
  • Do you feel like you’re “in the know” with what’s happening with (insert ministry name)?
  • Have you encouraged or recruited anyone to serve with (insert ministry name)? If not, then is this something you would consider doing in the next few weeks? Why or why not?
  • Do you have any other feedback or questions for us?

Once you’ve completed this process, then congratulations! You have successfully led a new volunteer through the onboarding process. You know how to onboard a church volunteer and have done it well! Your leadership doesn’t stop there though – make sure you are ready to train your volunteers too! Visit the Free Resources page and download this free book:

Grab Your Free Copy: How to Train Your Volunteers

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