Onboarding Tools for Church Volunteers

How you welcome your new volunteers suggests a lot about how long they will last at your ministry. Workers who join the team only to feel confused and out of their depth are far more likely to quit their roles, while on the other hand, those who are received with open arms and warmth tend to be the ones who stay.

Chris Holland
June 29, 2022
Church Software

Save your ministry valuable time and resources by investing in your newbies so they will be more likely to serve with you for years to come. Church volunteers are essential to any church ministry, so look after your workers by showing them the respect and care they deserve.

If you want to do more for your volunteers, keep reading for the best ways you can give your workers a welcome to remember. These onboarding tools and tips will ensure that your next wave of volunteers is the most prepared yet.

Job Descriptions

Reviewing job descriptions

How you write your church volunteer job descriptions can make or break how your newbies settle into their new roles. Ideally, prospective volunteers would have access to detailed job descriptions before they even apply for the role. Doing this ensures they will be prepared for whatever comes their way.

Clearly outlining the church volunteer expectations and responsibilities reduces the amount of awkwardness and confusion on day one. Be clear and concise with what you expect them to cover in the role on the job description and steer clear of any nasty surprises. Setting expectations in the early days is essential.

Be Thorough

Be thorough during onboarding

Many church leaders are strapped for time, juggling busy schedules. For that reason, it is no surprise that onboarding processes are often minimalistic. While it may be efficient at saving time, it can lead to an oversimplified volunteer training process, and confused, unmotivated workers.

The first few weeks are vital when laying the groundwork for how your volunteers will approach their new role, so harness their fresh-faced excitement and motivation by providing clear instructions and a point of contact for any issues.

Physical Copy of Notes

Paper copies

Be thorough with your training materials, and offer them a physical copy of everything you explain. The first day at a new job is often overwhelming, and providing a take-home copy of the notes gives them the freedom to recap in their own time.

If you don’t want to waste paper, you can always send an email version. Equipping your workers with a handbook of the information they need to get through the first few weeks while they find their feet will help them feel relaxed and confident. Plus, it will reduce the number of questions they ask you!

Use Multiple Dimensions

In the past, church onboarding processes have over-relied on shadowing, but this method is highly flawed. Observation alone isn't enough to give your new volunteers a coherent understanding of how your ministry works. 

It may be beneficial in helping newbies gain confidence, but inconsistencies across the floor will make things confusing. Use shadowing alongside other training methods for an all-around understanding and a lower turnover rate.

First Five Times

Follow the first five times rule when carrying out your onboarding process. Instead of giving new workers a six-week or six-month probation period, consider them new until they have served on five separate occasions. 

This is important because some volunteers will hit the ground running and show up consistently, week after week, but others might take months to serve five times. New volunteers need extra care until they are out of this period.

Don’t Skimp on the Details

There’s nothing worse than showing up to a new position with no idea of where to be or what to do. It is far better to overdo it and provide an entirely comprehensive guide to make your volunteers feel welcome and looked after.

Things to include:

  • Dress code
  • Supervisor/team leader
  • Where to meet
  • Time to arrive
  • Things to bring (e.g., pen, paper, lunch)
  • What to prepare in advance 

Volunteer Onboarding Checklist

Volunteer checklist

Make sure you have covered every last detail by following a church onboarding checklist. This outline by Springly covers your responsibilities before, during, and after the volunteering period. 

Welcoming volunteers with open arms is essential if you hope to retain your workers. Using a checklist will help church leaders keep on top of it all, ensuring every new volunteer feels appreciated. 

Tip: Onboarding in batches makes this process easier as you can send the information out in bulk! 

Access to Software

Church software online

Nowadays, most ministries use church management software to facilitate the smooth running of daily events. Choose from handy apps like Lead Small by Think Orange to all-inclusive software packages that cover all the bases.

Before your new volunteer arrives, ensure they have access to all the login information needed for a smooth-running first day. Send through the resources they need the day before their volunteering shift and give them time to get accustomed.

The most important thing to remember when managing volunteer onboarding is that this is an exciting period for your new volunteers. They are probably feeling a buzz around their first day and ready to embark on a new journey serving their community.

Harness this energy by welcoming them warmly, guiding them carefully, and answering every question they have. Greet them with a smile and be appreciative of their time. Not only are these eager volunteers doing God’s work, but they are also contributing to the daily running of your ministry. 

Help make church volunteering an insightful experience, and they may even encourage their friends to sign up. Word of mouth is a powerful thing that can help you recruit new and enthusiastic workers.

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