How to Engage Volunteers with Technology

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No matter your church’s size or type, all churches have one thing in common: people. Whether you are a church of 200 or 20,000, engaging volunteers is a key to success. Ephesians 4 calls churches to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. Effectively engaging volunteers can reduce the need for staff to manage your church’s activities. Here are four ways that you can use technology to improve volunteer engagement:

  1. Help people serve according to their gifts.
  2. Ensure that volunteers don’t slip through the cracks.
  3. Keep track of your serving opportunities.
  4. Train your volunteers to invite others.


Chris Eller‘s insight:

Volunteer recruitment is in many ways the lifeblood of a church. At First Family, where I serve, we employ a variety of methods to help bring new volunteers onto our ministry teams. 


If we look at Steve Caton’s four ways to use technology to improve volunteer engagement, here, specifically, is how we do this at First Family:


  1. Help people serve according to their gifts. Like many churches, we teach a class we call Wired that helps church members learn about spiritual gifts, how they differ from talents and natural abilities, and highlight a wide variety of areas of service within our church and our community. To take it a step further, we make Wired available 24/7 online. Click here for the Wired landing page.
  2. Ensure that volunteers don’t slip through the cracks. No surprise here, but at First Family, we use Church Community Builder to help us schedule and manage volunteers. CCB provides a seamless, end-to-end process that creates a volunteer pipeline. A free piece of advice: in order for your volunteer pipeline to work effectively, someone must own it and make sure follow up is taking place. Software apart from people is meaningless.
  3. Keep track of your serving opportunities. With multiple ministries spread over multiple campuses, this is where software becomes invaluable. As a church grows, there are too many moving parts to keep track of manually. An application like Church Community Builder helps manage these many opportunities. Moreover, it provides our volunteers with the tools and information they need to effectively serve in our church. If a volunteer is out-of-town the weekend they are scheduled to work, CCB makes it easy to make an adjustment to the volunteer calendar and notify the leader over that ministry team.
  4. Train your volunteers. I’m going to shorten this to simply train your volunteers. If your volunteers are fully engaged in ministry, and enthusiastic about their area of service, they will prove to be effective at promoting their area of service. 


As anyone in ministry can tell you, systems often look good on paper, but getting them implemented is the art of the job. I would love to tell you that we are perfect at implementing the systems we have in place, but too often urgency pushes systems out of the way. The trick is getting your systems to function second nature so when an urgent crisis hits, the system responds naturally. We are not there yet.


One final piece of advice–nothing can replace a face-to-face ask. We live in a digital age, and text messages, email, and Facebook are a part of our communications toolbox, but asking someone in person to help in a specific ministry area is the best method of recruiting new volunteers.

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