Leading your volunteers with support and kindness is vitally important to keeping a happy and enthusiastic team. However, there can come a point when lines become blurred, and you no longer know how to re-establish boundaries with your volunteers. It can often be a sensitive topic, so it is imperative to handle these situations delicately.
Being straightforward and honest with your volunteers will inevitably bring you closer as a team, so it's incredibly valuable to have these somewhat awkward conversations. Keep compassion and understanding at the forefront of your discussion, follow these tips, and you will establish more professional boundaries with ease.
Address the Issue
Before you let feelings of outrage consume you at the constant stream of calls from volunteers, it's necessary to address the issue. As a trusted person within the church community, it could be the case that they are turning to you for help with a particular problem. The last thing you'd want to do in this situation is to shun a volunteer.
Set Up a Meeting
If weekend calls from volunteers persists, make an effort to arrange a different, more appropriate platform volunteers can use to reach out if they have an issue. Start with a one-on-one meeting to offer them a safe space to share, and then choose your next step based on the issue at hand. If it is something easily resolved, their problem might be a lack of confidence in being able to solve their own problem.
Why Are They Struggling?
The hard truth is, if calls from volunteers continue over the weekend, they are likely lacking in guidance, or understanding of their duties. Fortunately, this is a problem that you can remedy with ease from within the ministry. Sometimes, the amount of responsibility assigned to someone in a role can be overwhelming because it's more than they bargained for. Assigning them less responsibility could help them grow within the role. Sometimes, the issue may stem from not having proper training in the area of their service. Provide basic training or shadowing of a more experienced volunteer to help your overwhelmed volunteer gain confidence.
Arranging Alternate Lifelines
Creating a group chat via text or WhatsApp with other volunteers can create a useful channel for helping and supporting each other without the need for help from ministry leaders. This way, they can run an issue by more experienced volunteers to discover the answer to their problem.
Or, you could encourage proactiveness, and require that any issue has to be raised before the weekend if they want your assistance. You could even dedicate an afternoon to creating a "drop-in" help service during your office hours.
Identify Practical Solutions
Take a moment to consider the nature of these calls from volunteers. If you receive more than a few about a similar issue, it's time to improve the organization of that area of ministry or the way it's run. For example, if volunteers are feeling stressed about what will be covered in the children’s ministry curriculum the next day, why not invest in some technology, to make this easier?
How to Train Children’s Ministry Volunteers
Efficient training of your volunteers is vitally important in helping them be independent and efficient members of your team. Offering them the chance to shadow other volunteers before they are expected to work independently can greatly improve self-confidence. While full training for volunteers may be more work in the short term, it will certainly pay off!
Calls From Volunteers: Establishing Healthy Boundaries
After taking the time to really understand the issue and your volunteers, if the issue persists, it's time to draw a professional boundary. Explain that while you are a ministry leader, you deserve time off — no one should have access to you at all times. Give them step-by-step guidelines for when they simply must get help, and draw this boundary when you see fit. Whether you choose a weekend email or text to be acceptable is entirely up to you.
Keep Communication Channels Clear
The risk within this dilemma is that your volunteer might begin to feel alienated and question why they are are serving. So, keep communication lines open, even after you have had that conversation.
Ways to keep your team happy and thriving include regular meetings, fun events, frequent chances for feedback, and rewards to show that they are valued.
Establish Points of Contact
If it’s inappropriate for a volunteer to contact you on the weekend, is there someone else to whom they can reach out? Delegating team leaders and sub-groups of volunteers is an excellent way of boosting responsibility within the team while also taking some of the weight off of yourself. Assigning a named line manager to each worker is critical for efficient organization.
Value Your Volunteers
An understanding of professional boundaries is essential in any working environment. But so is the general morale of the members of your ministry. The people who have volunteered for these children’s ministry jobs are certainly good people who just want to lend a helping hand in spreading the Word of God. So, don’t let petty grievances get in the way of your ultimate vision.
Kids' church lessons will become a breeze when you have an eager and effective team of volunteers on your side. If running a group of volunteers is new to you, then take a look at these volunteer job descriptions, as clear and concise job descriptions are more likely to attract a capable candidate who is excited about the job and keen to participate. Volunteers can be difficult to manage, so why not open a new position, entirely dedicated to volunteer handling?