I wish I could tell you that I retain 100% of my volunteer, but unfortunately I don’t. If you did not know every four months I email all my volunteers and ask a simple question of whether they want to continue serving in children’s or help them move to a different ministry in our church. There are many reasons for this, but manly this question gives our volunteers an opportunity to prayfully consider what God has laid on their hearts. After two years of emailing this question every four months I stumbled upon some thoughts on volunteers who choose to depart the children’s ministry.
This thought breaks my heart at times but these are the leaders that do not wish to continue serving despite the potential strengths you see in them. They tend to be volunteers that make an impact with your team, excellent with the children and completely elevate your whole ministry. But God lays it on their heart to serve in a different ministry. What is your lost as leader is a benefit to another ministry leader. For me, I commonly cry when a volunteer’s family has to move…being in a region of high turn over we gain families and lose others regularly.
When a volunteer leaves it is crucial you ask why; but when you ask be humble enough to hear something that might take a hit on your ego. Departing volunteers might enlighten you to an issue or concern in your ministry. Bad leaders would simply dismiss their opinions, great leaders will listen and respond in some manner. If a leader leaves because of a leadership flaw then that flaw needs to be fixed. However, if the volunteer departs because of a systematic issue then as a ministry leader you will need to address those issues to prevent the departure of more volunteers.
This is not a common one, but sometimes you have that one volunteer that tends to suck up the most of your time. Either through poor decisions on their part or incapability to work on a team. Helping them to find a different ministry enables you to refocus on your current volunteers and place them in a ministry team that might better suit their personality & gifting. The benefit comes when I see that same person that was struggling in your ministry now thriving in another…that is worth cheering!
This tends to be the most common reason my volunteers leave; they enter a season of life where ministry is simply not a possible. For instance, when a volunteer is about to give birth or a volunteer is entering a period of time that they can not be consistent. During these times I have learned to not guilt them into staying, instead I come alongside of them and care for them during that season of life. Besides, for most of these volunteers it is a season and if you stay connected with them, the better the chances they will return and enhance the ministry.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve needed to learn is to remember that they are people first and volunteers second. At the very heart of ministry it’s about the people and ministry gives us an excuse to help people find their callings & passions as a disciple in Christ. These are not your “people” they are God’s children, and He has made you a steward of His church. How do you honestly feel when you get that dreaded email/call or hallway encounter where your volunteer is sharing with you that they are departing?