Answer the Questions that Matter!
As a volunteer coordinator or team leader, your volunteers look to you for answers, too. They need your encouragement, motivation, wisdom, and direction. While it’s impossible to have all the answers (I hope you agree with that statement!), there are some questions you should have answers for. If you don’t, I encourage you to spend some time with your core team, asking and answering them. In the long run, it will keep you from trying to answer them on the fly or at less convenient times.
The most important question to answer is WHY.
Knowing the mission and purpose of each activity and event you lead will provide clarity, vision, and energy. Having (and sharing) your vision for what you do will engage people’s hearts and emotions. It’s one of the keys to sustaining your team.
The question Why is central to every endeavor. If you can’t answer with confidence, you may need to reevaluate the activity or event or talk with leaders to understand their vision. Often, people’s passion dies only because the vision has died. If you can reignite the Why behind the What, your team will be re-energized!
First Mission Church is called to support and strengthen families. Poverty and unemployment are on the rise; and Pastor Leonard believes First Mission Church is uniquely positioned to minister to families in their neighborhood. He calls Josie, his children’s coordinator to talk about this.
The second most important question to ask is WHO.
Identify the personalities, spiritual gifts, strengths, weaknesses, and passions you have on your team. Are there gifts or personalities missing? What type of person would take your team to the next level? Once you have defined who you are looking for, recruiting becomes a much less daunting task.
Let’s go back to Pastor Leonard’s office. He has called Josie in because he knows she shares his heart for families in need, and she has a great reputation for doing things with excellence. She also has creative ideas for innovative ministry.
Next, you need to answer the question, WHAT.
What activity, position, project or event will help you accomplish the mission? This may already be defined for you, but now you are responsible to make it happen. If this is the case, be certain you can answer the first two questions before you go any further!
Make sure you know the scope, budget, and schedule of your project or position. Initiate discussions with other leaders until this is well-defined. This knowledge will become the foundation for every decision and plan going forward.
Rosie and Pastor Leonard come to the decision that a VBS would be a great way to reach families in their neighborhood. They feel it is within their reach based on resources and scheduling. They plan a follow-up meeting to assemble a core team (whom Josie will recruit) and hammer out the scope of the event, the budget, and outline a schedule going forward.
Lastly, you need to know HOW.
You know what you are supposed to do, now you have to figure out HOW to do it! Easy, huh? In reality, if you have answered the other three questions, answering this will be relatively easy. Often, leaders are tempted to stop after answering What and forget to establish How. Or, all of their time and energy is spent on figuring out How without ever answering the other three questions!
First Mission Church’s first Vacation Bible School is two months away. The core volunteer team is meeting to lay out the plans to see it come to fruition. One team is in charge of volunteers (recruiting, scheduling, and training). Another is in charge of resources (curriculum and supplies). And another is planning snacks and logistics. Together they are laying out an organized plan to make the vision a reality.
Remember, it all starts with Why—the purpose behind what you do. Who speaks to the people alongside you—and those you are serving. What position or program will best accomplish your why? How defines your plan for carrying it out. When you can answer these questions with clarity and confidence, you are 90% of the way to success!
For ideas on how to keep more volunteers for longer, download Church Volunteer Daily’s free report filled with volunteer appreciation ideas.
Sue Brage worked in nonprofit marketing and communications for more than nine years before joining Group Publishing as Online Publisher and Editor for Church Volunteer Daily.com. Her experience as a writer, editor, and volunteer coordinator (not to mention wife and mother) gives her a unique perspective and ability to encourage and help leaders. She has a big heart for people and great passion for helping others serve their churches and communities better. Follow Sue on Twitter and @SueBrage and @CVCDaily