This guest series is contributed by Bill Allison of Cadre Ministries.
Training Killer #3: Poor Planning
One prevalent reason many training offerings are not well attended by volunteers in the church is not because volunteers lack commitment to the church, their ministry, or personal development, but because the training opportunities are not planned with the life, ministry, and schedule of the average church volunteer in mind.
Be sure to be cognizant of—and to avoid—these four common planning blunders the next time you plan training for the volunteers in your church:
1. Poor Scheduling
A common planning gaffe vocational church leaders tend to make is planning an excellent training session for volunteers at times that are nearly impossible or extremely inconvenient for most of their volunteers. If you schedule training when volunteers are not likely to attend, don’t be surprised when only a few attend.
When training volunteers in your church, it is absolutely critical to look through a volunteer lens when you plan the timing of the training! Plan training for times that work best for the schedules of the majority of your volunteers—not what fits best in the schedules of the full-time staff. In some churches/ministries, a Saturday morning works best. In others, Sunday afternoon or night is best. Still in others, a weeknight for 2 hours is best. You must figure out what works best for the volunteers in your church/ministry. The best training offered at inopportune times for volunteers will still be a poorly attended training.
One last scheduling warning: Offering training for volunteers that falls in the midst of a church calendar that is overloaded with events and activities forces volunteers to choose between the training or some other church event that either precedes or follows the training event.
2. Poor Communication
Once you’ve landed on a training workshop and a time that is most opportune for the volunteers in your church, volunteers will need clear and advance communication about the training. Everyone is busy. Schedules are filled way in advance. So plan ahead—and start communicating at least two months in advance for maximum volunteer participation. Give advance, clear, and personal
communication about the training.
3. Failing to Provide Childcare
If you really want adult volunteers who have families to come to your training, you would be extremely wise to offer childcare at the church during the training. This alone could make the difference in whether or not busy volunteers with small children come to your training! Whether or not you offer childcare during a volunteer training opportunity speaks volumes to those you are trying to train. Does offering childcare during training sound like too much work? Welcome to real volunteer ministry!
4. Forgetting to Offer GREAT Food and Snacks/Goodies
As insignificant as this may seem, offering great food and snacks/goodies could be a significant factor in getting volunteers to come to your training — no joke. Think about it: If you provide food and snacks/goodies, you’ve just saved volunteers time. They don’t have to plan, pay, or prepare a meal. If there’s one thing a volunteer appreciates deeply it’s someone who values their time. Few things say, “I love you” to a volunteer better than “We’ve got the food and snack/goodies covered.”
I just finished training 100 volunteers who teach and lead small groups. When the pastor came up to close the training in prayer, he mentioned that he would be offering ongoing training over the next six months and that at the first time of training next month there would be a chocolate fountain. There was a collective audible gasp of delight! People loved it. I ask you: Is this bribery or wisdom? I’ll let you decide. (Okay, I think it was incredibly thoughtful.) But don’t miss my point. Good food and snack goodies are always a plus. Great food and snack goodies have a magnet-like pull on volunteers, and any money you spend on doing the food and snacks well is money well invested in the volunteers who serve in your ministry.
To be sure, there are plenty more training killers that keep volunteers from showing up for your training. However, if you avoided the blunders mentioned all three parts of this series, you could be on your way to a volunteer training break through. Who knows, the next time you offer training to the volunteers in your church, your training time could be filled with… volunteers!
Bill Allison is the founder of Cadre Ministries, a ministry whose Eph. 4:11-12 obsession is to equip churches to make volunteers wildly successful. Cadre fulfills this obsession best by training trainers to take training back to their local ministries. Every month he publishes Cadre Connection, a FREE gold mine of training resources for volunteers in the church — and those who love volunteers in the church. Subscribe for free.
Posted on September 17, 2009