How to Manage Volunteers for Hybrid Ministry
One of the biggest struggles churches are facing in the wake of COVID-19 has been inspiring and recruiting volunteers. Ministry leaders around the nation have expressed frustration with everchanging guidelines and expectations around shelter-in-place and what it means for those attending (and volunteering) in-person and online. Many churches are now working with hybrid models of ministry that involve in-person and online components, such as live streaming, chatting, social media engagement, and more. This means that there are more jobs that need the help of volunteers and new ways of doing things to engage and connect with people in-person and online.
But many churches are having difficulty with managing and staying connected with volunteers through this time. Many churches have members or volunteers who are concerned for their health or the health of their family members during this time and are electing to attend services online. Even those volunteering in-person might be struggling with finding their place in a hybrid service environment. To help you understand how to manage and encourage your volunteers in online or hybrid ministry, we’ve put together five things you can train and manage volunteers for with online and in-person services during COVID-19, as well as practical ways to communicate and manage volunteers during this time.
Online Ministry Volunteers
To start things off, we’ll look at five things your church volunteers can do for online ministry. For those who are staying home, they don’t have to be left out of ministry opportunities and can still have an outlet for ministry while they’re connected online.
Chatting with Live Service Attendees
With many people tuning into church live streams for their services, volunteers are needed to welcome and engage online visitors just like they would in person. It’s important to remember that people attending online are still looking for community and engagement, and many are dealing with feelings of extreme loneliness and isolation in quarantine. Having a volunteer from your church reach out and connect with people through chat is a simple, yet effective way to start building relationships with visitors online.
Pray Together Online
We pray for people who aren’t with us all the time, whether they might be distant loved ones, missionaries, churches in other parts of the world, or even online church visitors. Having a safe place where people can come and share their prayer requests and see a community that is lifting them up in prayer is a powerful tool for your church website. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for volunteers to pray for the needs of others and know that they are serving them by bringing their prayers before the Lord. CloverSites websites make it easy to add a prayer request page on your church website that lets other visitors see and pray for others, while marking that they prayed for them so they know there is a community of believers lifting them up.
Gather New Visitor Information
It’s important to train your volunteers on how to direct new visitors to filling out an online connect form so that they can stay in touch with your church and have their information in your contact database. While your volunteers have their attention, this is a great opportunity to add them to your church management software database so that you can properly follow up with them after service and start building a relationship with your church.
Personal Follow Ups with Visitors
It’s important to assign leaders and volunteers with tasks to personally follow up with online visitors that fill out your connect form or give their contact info. Remember, this isn’t just about building numbers of live views, website traffic, or increasing chats in the feed. Ministry is making connections and sharing Jesus Christ with real people. Once you have someone willing to share their information with your ministry, they’re giving you the invitation to reach out to them. It’s always great if you can call someone and have a real conversation. Whenever you contact someone, don’t make it about jumping straight into theology. Make it a goal to befriend that person and learn about them. Ask questions about their life, interests, loved ones and don’t be afraid to share about yourself. Talk to them like you would a friend and let the Gospel be shared organically as you build a relationship with them. From there, volunteers can offer next steps to become a part of your church, whether that’s online or in person, and take the next steps with their faith in Jesus Christ.
Online Small Groups
Another method of staying connected online is through hosted small groups. Many churches are doing online bible studies hosted through software such as Zoom or Google Hangouts. Social media channels like Facebook Groups offer a place of community where leaders and volunteers can moderate who joins and what kinds of posts are acceptable. This can also be a great opportunity to mentor volunteers who might be interested in hosting their own groups and creating guidelines for any groups that are meant to represent your church online.
In-Person Church Services & Events
Online ministry is just as valuable as in-person ministry with the ability to connect and build relationships from people, no matter where they are. Your volunteers can play a vital role in reaching new people this way and should be trained on how to facilitate these types of ministries. But COVID-19 hasn’t just changed how we minister online, new regulations and concerns have also changed how we carry out in-person services and events, as well. These are five things your volunteers can do to minister in-person at your church as you open services for the public.
Greet & Inform
As people come in the door, it’s important that they are familiar with any necessary regulations your church may have, such as policies for sanitation, social distancing, and wearing face masks. It’s important to train your volunteers on these conversations, especially with such a wide spectrum of opinion on these subjects. At the end of the day, it’s about doing your church’s part to keep your people safe and healthy and respecting the regulations given to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Providing Sanitizer and Face Masks
If your church’s new policies require face masks during service, make sure to have some on hand for volunteers to hand out to those who forgot their own or were unaware they needed one before visiting. Hand sanitizer is also an important thing to have on hand for volunteers and visitors, alike. Again, make sure your volunteers and staff all know how to discuss these things with visitors so they feel welcomed and comfortable with any accommodations your church is offering through this complex time.
Expanded Check-In for Attendance
To help you gather information and reports on church attendance during COVID-19, it would be wise to station additional volunteers and check-in stations for visitors as they walk in. Most churches provide check-in for children’s ministry, but you can expand your systems to monitor check-in for youth ministries, small groups, or even general attendance if you need to. Providing check-in through your website or mobile app can help speed up the process and educate new visitors on how it works before they arrive so they know in advance. Using mobile check-in will allow families to print out name tags in advance so that volunteers can take care of them as soon as they arrive without having to wait in line at the kiosks.
Expanding Your Kids and Youth Ministry Volunteer Base
If there’s any ministry that can always use more helpers, it’s Kids and Youth Ministry. And it’s not a bad idea to expand your team during this time when there might be a need for more small groups in classes to help with social distancing and making sure kids aren’t sharing any germs. Having volunteers in hallways is helpful for making sure students and visitors aren’t loitering and volunteer assistants can check kids’ temperatures as they arrive and make sure students using the restroom are getting there and back to their class in a timely manner.
Extra Hands for Setup and Clean Up
It’s expected that churches are going to need to be even more thorough about cleaning things before and after each service. Seating areas, greeting centers, classrooms, toys, etc. should all be cleaned before and after each use to reduce the spread of any germs or disease as we get into flu season with COVID-19 still around and symptoms that can make it hard to tell which is which. Anything you can do to reduce the spread of germs will go a long way to helping churches stay open and give your churchgoers peace of mind about bringing their families to services.
With all these new areas of opportunity to serve, volunteers are still needed to help ministry happen at your church. It’s easy to lose track of people when you don’t see them in person as often, so make it a point to reach out to your volunteers on a regular basis. Even the ones that may seem disconnected from your church might be looking for a chance to reconnect and help the church online. Use these opportunities to build and foster relationships that can lead people to Jesus.
For many churches, this upcoming season is going to be tricky to navigate. With many churches reopening their doors, your team has to be prepared with the right mindset that things are going to look different from here on out, but the workers are still needed for the harvest! Now is the time to reconnect with existing volunteers and encourage new volunteers to join your ministry. See our article on matching church volunteers with opportunities to learn how you can attract and engage new volunteers and then start meeting with your team to discuss these areas of opportunity and how you can mobilize your volunteers for the future.