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How to Keep Your Volunteers Motivated During a Pandemic


Many, if not most churches are struggling with keeping their volunteers engaged during this pandemic. Especially, the faithful, senior adults who have served so well over the years. Many are cautious about returning to their volunteer role until there is a vaccine / antidote for the virus.

This is understandable, especially among our senior adult volunteers. And our first priority should be to keep them safe and use caution about bringing them back into their pre-virus roles.

If you don't keep your volunteer team motivated during this time, it can lead to a decline in volunteer engagement.

So...the big question is how do you keep your volunteer team engaged and motivated as they wait for it to be safe enough for them to serve again?

If you are struggling with this, don't worry. Most churches are. We definitely have to lead well during this time. Let's look at some helpful ideas that can help you keep your volunteers motivated enough to come back after they get the clearance to do so.

Keep the vision alive. Most of your volunteers are serving because they want to be part of the vision you have put before them. Keep going back to that vision. Keep the "why" in front of them. "How" the vision is accomplished may shift and adjust in the days ahead, but the "why" will remain the same.

Every piece of communication they see should have the why attached to it. Emails should have it. Newsletters should have it. Social media posts should include it as a tag line at the minimum. Your volunteers want to make a difference. They want to be the difference in kids and families' lives.

The "how" may change, but the "why" is unchanging. Keep it at the center of everything you do.

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Keep them in the loop. Don't expect your volunteers to shine at church if you are keeping them in the dark during the week. Send out updates, need-to-knows, etc. Leave space in your communication for Q & A.

Meet with them virtually. You can use apps like Zoom, Facebook live, Skype, etc. to communicate with them as a group. Meet with them virtually and share updates, encouragement, spend time praying together, casting vision and providing relevant and pertinent training.

You can also use this approach to meet with key volunteers individually. They, in return, can then contact the volunteers they lead or serve with.

As you meet with volunteers in person or virtually, give them space to express their thoughts, worries, ideas and insight. They can see some things you can't see and they have ideas that can help the ministry run smoother.

Ask them questions like this and listen to their responses.

  • What is driving your motivation up or down?

  • How is the current situation affecting you and your family right now?

  • How can I serve you and your family during this time of need?

Think about how you will navigate through these 3 stages:

  • sheltered phase

  • re-opening phase

  • post Covid 19 phase

It will take wisdom, strategizing and adaption to walk through these 3 stages with your team. Map out a clear, well thought out plan to communicate with them.

Pray with them.

Take time to pray for their prayer requests. People are worried about losing their jobs, paying their rent or mortgage payment and protecting their health. They need your prayers and prayer truly does make the difference.

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