To lead others well, a leader must know what is expected of those being led. In businesses, the leader or HR department creates a “job description”, which attracts qualified candidates for a given position. That job description helps the leader determine who would be the best fit for the job, while providing clarity to the prospective job applicant regarding expectations. Businesses often do this process very well. Many times churches do this well for staff or paid positions; however, neglect providing such descriptions for their volunteers.
Potential volunteers often hear the church solicit help for different areas of need, but then show up to help and discover a lack of direction about what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, when it needs to be completed, or who is in charge. As a result volunteers often bail out of the volunteer opportunity.
People want direction. They want to know why they are serving and what is expected of them. Here are seven simple steps you can use in creating simple and effective volunteer job descriptions for your church. (Our church consulting firm can help you clarify your staff and church volunteer job descriptions as part of our strategic planning process for churches.)
7 Simple Steps You Can Use In Creating Simple and Effective Volunteer Job Descriptions For Your Church
1) Connect your church’s vision and mission with their passion.
Volunteers generally have an interest in specific areas of ministry, and they have a passion for what they do. So make sure you connect your church’s vision with the passion of your volunteers. Volunteers want to make a difference in the church and surrounding community and help an organization. When you connect your organization’s vision to the passion of volunteers, you engage volunteers in a way that they will be the most motivated to serve and help your organization.
Most importantly, when you connect the vision of your church to the passion of your volunteers, it will help volunteers enjoy what they are doing and keep volunteering! That means volunteers will continue serving faithfully for longer periods of time.
2) Remember that commitment level is irrelevant.
Time commitment is something that volunteers are indifferent about.
- High commitment opportunities attract specific volunteers.
- Low commitment opportunities attract specific volunteers.
Research shows that some volunteers are attracted to opportunities that have a low level of commitment, while other volunteers are attracted to opportunities that have a high level of commitment. Basically, it doesn’t matter how high or low of a commitment is required of your volunteers. There will be volunteers attracted to your opportunities regardless of what is required of the volunteers. When designing your volunteer position descriptions, be clear about what you expect from your volunteers and offer a variety of options for time commitment.
3) Look for opportunities for volunteers to test the waters.
Bill Hybels has said: “If I had to sum up the key to finding the perfect serving niche, I’d do it in one word: experiment.” If you lead and coordinate volunteers, you want to get people “lightly” involved at the beginning of their service with you for three reasons:
- The motives of volunteers can and will change over time.
- People don’t always know what to expect in the volunteer experience.
- People are trying to “fulfill” their needs and emotional.
Try using short-term projects to get people lightly involved. Make sure to:
- Have a specific time limit.
- Use your best leaders.
- Open doors for long-term opportunities.
- Look for holiday and special events.
- Provide an “out” for both you and your volunteers if it doesn’t work out.
4) Be clear about what will and will not be done.
Being clear about what will and will not be done means you address what the volunteer does as part of the position related to, administrative work, interaction with clients, how long to complete work, and what role the volunteers play in the work.
Most importantly, when recruiting volunteers you want to connect the work the volunteers will be doing with the vision of your organization. If they are helping to stuff envelopes that raise money for a local non-profit, be sure to tell the volunteers what the envelopes are going to do and why it is important. (ie – it’s not just busy work, but has an impact.)
This topic is one you may want to explicitly write down on your volunteer position description, verbally go over with your volunteer, or you might want to simply know this information for yourself.
5) Describe how the work will be done, as it relates to your church’s vision.
Some things you will want to describe are:
- Will volunteers be interacting with others?
- Will food be provided?
- Who will volunteers be working with?
- What will oversight look like (if at all)?
- Who will volunteers report to?
- What should volunteers wear?
Do your best to help volunteers get a feel for what they will be doing and how it relates to the vision of your organization. (If you need help with vision clarity or planning for your church’s growth, contact one of our church vision consultants.)
6) Outline the required training and qualifications and why these fulfill the church’s vision.
When looking for volunteers with training and qualifications, consider these two areas:
- Some basic requirements can be learned.
These are things like being CPR trained, having a driver’s license, childcare safety, etc.
- Some strengths and skills volunteers need to inherently possess.
These are things that cannot be learned on the job. These are things, such as good people skills, good organization (if they are going to do administrative work), good communication skills (if they are going to teach), and being able to pass a background check.
7) Make it easy for potential volunteers to contact you.
When recruiting volunteers, it is important to remember that most volunteers have normal jobs, which means they are busy from 8am-5pm (the same times you probably work). Therefore, you must provide ways for volunteers to easily contact you both within and outside of the 8am-5pm window. Make sure you are accessible by email, phone, or text and be clear about when those volunteers can expect to hear from you. Also consider having a few different people that can answer basic questions about volunteer responsibilities and expectations. Don’t let the frustration of not being able to get a hold of someone keep your volunteers from serving!
Do you have a plan for creating simple and effective volunteer job descriptions for your church? What steps can you take towards creating a clear job description today that uses your church vision in volunteer recruitment and also aligns new volunteers with your growing church leadership pipeline?
Checkout Christopher’s other posts in his series on volunteering:
4 Elements of Casting Wide and Reaching Deep in Your Church Volunteer Recruitment
4 Ways to Use Vision to Recruit Volunteers
Creating Simple and Effective Volunteer Descriptions for Your Church
Christopher Scott is a student, leader, and blogger. He has almost ten years of experience working for the United Way and a small volunteer-run non-profit program. He holds a degree in Christian Ministry & Leadership from Fresno Pacific University and is currently working on a master’s degree in Christian Leadership from Dallas Theological Seminary. He blogs weekly at ChristopherScottBlog.com.