Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Planning a Ministry of Volunteer Support and Encouragement - Begin with Prayer!

This month we will spend some time looking at how to develop a ministry of support and encouragement for your volunteers. As I said,  your church and my church have each been gifted with volunteers who faithfully serve in the various areas of our ministries. While these people certainly do not serve for our thanks, it absolutely is appropriate to take the time to thank them! I have always enjoyed the ministry of appreciation - what could possibly be more fun than taking the time to thank and encourage those who serve as volunteers in our churches? There are many ways to thank your volunteers by supporting and encouraging them, let's take a look at the essential things to keep in mind . . . 
  • The first thing to keep in mind is it is absolutely essential to begin with something which isn’t very time consuming and build from there. Once you being any ministry of support and encouragement to your volunteers you want to be able to maintain and continue the ministry. If you jump in and take on more than you can keep up with you may end up discouraging your volunteers.
  • Keep in mind, volunteer support is all about doing exactly that - supporting your volunteers, and includes things like praying for your volunteers, providing training and staffing your children's ministry appropriately. 
  • Volunteer encouragement is all about encouraging your volunteers and includes things like planning big events such as appreciation dinners and holiday open houses and smaller things like weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly surprises!  Pick and choose those ideas which you are able to commit to and keep up with then add more as you are able to continue to maintain them. 
All month we will look at both volunteer support and encouragement ideas and think about how you might include them in your ministry of appreciation to your volunteers . . . today we will begin with looking at how you can support your volunteers with prayer!
  • The first and most important thing you can do to support your volunteers is to pray for them.  Satan does not want them to enjoy or to be fruitful in their ministry. He wants them to burn out and be discouraged. We need to pray for our volunteers, their families and their ministry. We are in a spiritual battle . . . so pray, pray, PRAY!!  
  • Provide a list - updated monthly - of all volunteers and make it available for church members to utilize during prayer meetings and their personal devotions so each volunteer is prayed for by name.  Provide a list for church leadership to utilize with specific prayer requests the volunteers have given permission for you to share. 
  • Provide a Prayer Support Partner for each volunteer. Consider involving those people in your church who used to volunteer in your ministry, but now are unable to for health reasons. This is an excellent way to re-involve them in the ministry of your church!  If your Prayer Support Partner used to serve in ministry they will know the specific things to pray for and will truly be a source of support for those who are serving now.  The PSP would meet with their volunteer at least monthly and visit the class at least once a quarter as a “Special Guest” so they will be able to match names to faces of the children in the class as well as be able to know their volunteer better, be a support resource and friend and provide accountability for their volunteer. Include your PSP in any volunteer appreciation events you plan throughout the year as they will become an integral part of your ministry!
Not only is a prayer ministry essential to your ministry, it is also one of the easiest and best places to begin with as you develop your ministry of volunteer support and encouragement! Take some time today and think about what you can do to begin a prayer support ministry for your volunteers and then pray and ask God to help you identify those individuals in your church who might serve as your PSP. You will find as you support your volunteers in prayer your entire ministry will become stronger and more effective!

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