Monday, June 28, 2010

Recruiting Volunteers

Recently we looked at customer service in ministry.  Some of the companies that have great customer service have great staff or good staff to customer ratios. In a ministry setting the presentation of your ministry may be as good or great as your leaders and volunteers.  So how do you recruit more volunteers to improve your leadership ratio?  Recruiting volunteers and building a volunteer team are as important to your ministry as the content of your ministry.

So here are four things to remember about volunteers in your ministry setting:

  1. People do care and want to help – Australians are generous people, it is just that sometimes you just have to ask for support before you can see this generosity.  People have so many things to think about that they may not put their hand up to volunteer unless they are asked directly.  When people do care about your ministry, you need to invite those people into your ministry as volunteers.  Perhaps people start in a supportive role by helping behind the scene, leaving you to tackle the up front leadership role.
How can you move people from caring about your ministry to helping in your ministry?

  1. People do have time, although limited – People are always busy and sometimes they look at how many hours you do as a ministry leader and think they could never give that much time to the Church.  So how can you break down volunteer positions to manageable amounts of time.  Perhaps you can ask people to volunteer for one session per month, or volunteer to setup the session then go home.  People do have spare time but as a ministry leader you need to understand their other time commitments.
How can you break down the volunteer jobs into manageable portions of time?

  1. People are capable of a great deal – there are many talented people in your parish with skills that you need.  Perhaps they have never run a ministry before but they could do great things for your ministry.  Volunteers will give everything to a ministry if they are treated with respect.  As a ministry leader look to use people’s gifts and empower them to be the best they can be.  Don’t just delegate a task to a volunteer; empower them to use their initiative to complete a task.
How can you show more belief and trust in your volunteers?

  1. People need to be thanked – we can’t pay volunteers with money but we can thank them at every opportunity.  People can tell if you are genuine in your appreciation or are just thanking them to get more out of them.  When you are sincere in your appreciate of your current volunteers and they will appreciate an future volunteers they recruit.
How can you show appreciation to your volunteers?

We can all do with more volunteers in our ministry because people move on to other things.  You can never have too many volunteers so never knock back someone who wants to help.  If you do recruit more volunteers than you need, use your experienced volunteers in leadership and training roles, again volunteers are capable of a great deal.

Please leave a comment on how you recruit volunteers.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Customer Service tips for your ministry

In all my years of ministry service I have never had any formal customer service training.  It wasn’t until I served as a volunteer parking attendant at a Funeral that I saw the value of customer service.  On a day of sorrow and loss, people were leaving the car park after the funeral thanking the volunteers for their wonderful help and service.  It seems that the little things like saying hello to people as they drove into the car park made a difference.

I don’t know a lot about customer service, perhaps if I had more jobs in the retail sector I would have received better training in customer service.  I do know that when it comes to the church, we don’t think of people as customers or consumers.  We aim to treat people as members of a community or a family.  Whilst this is how we should treat members of the Church, some ministries have high number of visitors or new members, so how can we include them. 

Here are a few customer service practices that every Church or Ministry could learn:

  1. First Impressions – if people are visiting you for the first time what do they see?  Try to think and see as they would, not what you want them to see or think.  Whenever you visit a shop or retail store for the first time, you get an impression of the company behind the shop front.  The same is true of your ministry, the first time someone visits you they get an impression of your ministry and the parish. 
How can you improve people’s first impression of your ministry?
  1. Visitor Friendly – do people feel that they can visit your ministry?  Does your ministry feel like a club for a select group of people?  When I enter a retail store I know if they want my service by how the staff treat me.  So how can you make sure that visitors feel welcome, do you have a person who greats visitors and answer their questions?
How can you make your ministry more welcoming to visitors?
  1. Building your Brand – have you noticed that Apple products have a similar look or style?  They have one of the most respected “brands” of any company.  The golden arches is recognised anywhere as McDonalds have built their brand.  Whilst you don’t have the same marketing budget, does your ministry have a “brand” or style?  If you want people to start to recognise your ministry then they have to identify the brand.  The brand can be a name or style or a logo but it is more than that.  For example Soul at Pittwater parish have brand that goes deeper than their logo.
How can you build the brand of your ministry or group?
  1. Repeat business – why do you return to your favourite restaurant?  Many people return to their favourite cafĂ© because they know the coffee is good or the staff are friendly.  How can you get visitors to come back to your ministry?  Perhaps you need to develop some flexible predictability in your ministry.  Your ministry has to be predictably good so that if people turn up again they know what they are getting.  Yet you should be flexible enough that you change things before it becomes stale.  This is a hard balance to achieve but many aspects of ministry are hard to balance.
How can you generate repeat business in your ministry?

Maybe your ministry looks a little different that this; please adapt it to your situation.  Whilst we can’t start treating members of our church purely as consumers of our ministries, it is important to learn from the customer service principles that our church members have come to expect from their shopping experience.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Getting service hours in Winter

I noticed that the winter time mid year sales are starting in the shopping centres and it is time for the Ski season to begin.  Winter time has interesting implications for ministry in a parish context.  Some experienced ministry follow the rule “never start a new initiative in winter”.  The unwritten rule developed because people are more uncertain about coming out for a meeting at night when it is cold.  Others find it difficult to drive at night time or public transport isn’t as appealing in the rain.  Perhaps people in your parish are in a bit of a mid year slump; there isn’t the energy of the new year to drive fresh starts.

So as an intern how do you get your hours in?  There are still four hours of service that you need to get in each week so where can you serve?  Here are a few thoughts about getting service hours in winter time:

  1. Administration work – if people aren’t coming out for meetings, perhaps the parish has more material going out to the people.  Perhaps you might help in the parish office with mail outs or newsletters.  Maybe you could prepare a special “winter warmers” newsletter just for the winter months.
  2. Sacramental programs – the sacraments still happen even if it is cold or raining.  Maybe there are events that you could assist at.  Some interns have been helping at Confirmations to help organise the children while the Sacramental Coordinator assists the liturgy.  Perhaps you could assist with Baptism preparation nights by providing a cup of warm soup as people arrive.  Even being available to open and close doors at church can make people feel welcome while keeping the cold wind out of the church or hall.
  3. Research team – perhaps you spend hours on the internet, reading this blog, but others don’t have time for searching for new material.  Perhaps you could start a research team that helps ministry leaders find new material on the web.  Interns seem to know where to find things online that older ministry leaders just don’t know where to look.  Remember to log your hours and commit to a set period of research.  You can stay on task by trying to find three articles or resources each research session and report each week to the ministry leader on what you found.
  4. Winter afternoon sessions – if people won’t come out at night time maybe Sunday afternoon activities are more appealing?  There is something about the afternoon sun in winter that makes everything feel better.  Perhaps use the afternoon time to run a prayer group in the church.  Move the bible study to after lunch and bring soup or nice coffee.  If people won’t come out at night, shift your events to times when they will venture out.
  5. Planning for spring – just like a garden, good winter planning can lead to a fruitful spring.  It is the pastoral planning during winter that captures the spring time enthusiasm.  If your Junior High youth group plan to invite students finishing year 6 at the end of the year, then plan out each session now.  Planning meetings held with the committed leaders in winter will deliver well planned events to a fresh crop of participants in spring.

Perhaps this winter won’t be that cold and maybe your ministry participants are committed enough to come out rain, hail, snow or shine.  But if you find things slow down as it gets colder try these tips.  If you have your own tips for winter time ministry then leave a comment, we would love to get your advice, besides it is to cold to go outside, we can stay here a bit longer.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Content matters - Part IV

In a previous post I wrote how “content matters” in your ministry.  This week I would like to expand our thinking to how mission matters.

How are you going in your ministry at the moment?  Do feel tired and worn out?  Do you feel full of energy and passion?  Do the ideas flow naturally or are you just doing the same old thing?  The answers to these questions get to the heart of the Mission vs Maintenance spectrum.

Redemptoris missio says that missionary activity is a matter for all Christians.  Some of us grew up with the impression that missionary work is what goes on overseas.  Perhaps others grew up with the impression that mission is another word for social justice.  Mission is more that overseas work or social justice, it the transformative work of the Church in our world. 

Here are three thoughts about the content of your missionary activity:

  1. Mission is about Jesus – when we become more like Christ we feel drawn to the work of Jesus.  The content of any missionary activity is becoming more like Christ and making more disciples.  Sometimes people get involved in good works because it makes them feel better or because it makes others feel better.  When we see people as Jesus sees them we have no option but to act as Jesus would act.  Good works that do not come out of a relationship with Jesus is not mission but humanitarian work.

  1. Mission is a witness – many times people focus the content of mission on the work.  The focus becomes teaching scripture or handing out food or campaigning for a good cause.  The second focus in mission should be our witness.  People can see when you are just going through the routine; people are inspired by those who have a passion for the area they minister in.  What ever mission activity you get involved in it should come out of the passion that God has given you.  Your involvement in mission is not about doing good works but being a witness to how God sees you and sees the people you are ministering to.

  1. Mission is a journey – sometime we can feel good if we are able to give $50 dollars to a charity.  But mission is a long term journey rather than the short term efforts of a charity campaign.  We can buy the badges and drop coins in the bucket but can we journey with people in a long term mission.  The mission of the Church happens when a Catholic commits to their mission over the long term.  Here are a few example:
    • A Catechist with 15 years of service
    • A parent who helps the youth ministry long after their own children move on.
    • A musician who mentors young musicians into liturgical music
    • A team who establish a long term partnership with another parish.

What areas Mission excite you?  What passions do you apply to your missionary activity?  Please post a comment or share your thoughts.