Employers train new hires. Teens are trained to drive. Personal trainers help you reach your exercise goals. Training is common everywhere . . . except the church. Most churches feel they’re doing well if they offer Sunday school teacher training. The reality is that every church volunteer should be trained for ministry.
But aren’t most volunteer tasks simple enough that anyone can do them? Can’t they just learn as they go? Who has time to plan and lead training sessions, or even attend them?
Actually, volunteers want training. They want to do the job right. They don’t want to embarrass themselves. They want to learn the nuts and bolts. They want a safe place to ask questions.
Even if I already know how to do a task, training tells me how that task is done here, what the expectations are, how the equipment/schedule/procedures work here. It tells me how this task relates to other tasks in this setting, and how it fits into this church’s mission and ministry.
Training . . .
- can be scheduled or offered ‘on demand’;
- helps both new and long-term volunteers;
- can be led by leaders or fellow participants;
- communicates new information or reinforces previous information;
- can be combined with fellowship or appreciation activities; and
- should be fun!
Training can take many different forms, developed by you or others . . .
- written instructions;
- audio/video recordings;
- a buddy system or mentoring;
- group classes or one-on-one instruction;
- website information (and assessments);
- commercially available trainings;
- books, magazines, articles; and
Training builds leaders and it often goes beyond specific ministries. For instance, conflict management and communication skills are useful for nearly everyone who serves. Faith-sharing is a key skill, since serving often opens doors for sharing the Gospel within and beyond our church. Leaders often value training in how to effectively recruit, delegate, supervise, and train those with whom they work.
So many options! Our challenge is helping each ministry, and the church as a whole, determine the how, when, and what of specific trainings. When the importance of training is emphasized from the top down, when the topic is regularly revisited and people are held accountable, training becomes expected and, eventually, taken for granted.
Training advances the church’s mission. It reduces conflict and many other common problems. It builds teamwork and unity. It increases volunteer retention and improves results. It’s an investment in the body of Christ.
Here are some training resources you may find helpful. The author of this blog offers several resources:
- free worksheet for planning specific trainings
- for purchase, a package of two presentations, focused on the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of training, with participant handouts and leader’s guide.
In addition, check these out:
- A list of training resources
- Free webinars from Volunteer Match
- Betty Stalling’s 55-Minute Series, Training Staff to Succeed with Volunteers, is practical, succinct, and cost effective.
Editor’s note: If you’re looking for ways to recognize, connect, and celebrate volunteers in any or all of your ministries this fall, CTA can help. Check out the many resources we’ve developed, lots of them free!