Grow your ministry with motivated volunteers Print
Written by Jeanne Terrill   
Wednesday, 20 May 2015 03:50 PM America/New_York

JeanneTerrillConsider these tips for adding to your church store team

Adding volunteers to your church bookstore team for the sole purpose of helping your bottom line may not be the best plan.

Volunteers are a gift from God and should be viewed accordingly. Adding volunteers will cost you time and money, but if done with the right spirit, you will receive a return on your investment far greater than an increased bottom line.

People volunteer for a variety of reasons. They volunteer to help others and to make a difference in their community. Some are looking to connect with individuals who share their interests. Some want to meet new people and develop new friendships. Others simply want to get out of the house. If you can help the volunteer achieve his or her goal, it has the potential to transform the operation of your store.

People who volunteer are often excited to help in any way they can. Church bookstore volunteers often sense the leading of the Spirit to serve their church family. They come with a willing spirit and joyful heart.

If you approach this endeavor with your own spirit of giving, your church, your customers and your team will receive countless blessings. James 1:17 reminds us: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows.”

However, if you do not take the time to think through the process, you may end up regretting your decision. Not only will you waste time and energy—which are already in short supply—you will also potentially lose a volunteer whom God has called into service, and you may never get that opportunity with that person again. So before adding volunteers to your team, consider the following questions:

Why add volunteers to your team? Would your store benefit from fewer paid employees, an inventory clerk, a creative merchandiser, a graphic designer or a social media expert? These are all good reasons to embrace volunteer team members.

What will the volunteer do? The level of responsibility that you give to your volunteer will be based on the help that is needed and the skills and experience the volunteer brings to the table.

When will the volunteer serve? You should decide in advance when you want volunteers in the store. You will always want a paid team member working alongside the volunteer. This is to ensure that policy and procedures are followed. Also, you can hold a paid staffer to a higher level of accountability than a volunteer.

Who can volunteer? Recruiting volunteers should be handled the same as you would when recruiting paid staff. Write down the attributes of the perfect employee. Now apply that wish list to your prospect. Just because volunteers do not receive a paycheck from the bookstore, it doesn’t mean you should select individuals who fall short of your expectations. Consider the principle of Proverbs 21:5: “The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenty, but of everyone who is hasty only to want.”

Now that you have decided to embrace adding volunteers, it’s time to think through your next steps:

  • Your first step is finding the right volunteers. Start with an attention-grabbing announcement in your church bulletin. When creating your announcement, be brief and to the point, making sure to cover all of the important details. Here is an example of the type of announcement that may draw the kind of volunteer you need: “Make a difference in the church bookstore. Use your gifts and talents in a productive way by volunteering to help out with weekly merchandising needs on Thursdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Interested individuals with experience in retail merchandising should email the store manager.” And, of course, provide your email.
  • Your next step is to create a system for processing potential volunteers. At the beginning of the process, keep your initial contact with a potential volunteer limited to email correspondence. This will give you the opportunity to evaluate a potential volunteer’s ability to follow directions as well as their attention to detail.
  • Finally, develop a training program that will ensure your volunteer will succeed. Remember that everyone learns differently, so be prepared with written instructions, visual aids and hands-on activities.

It’s best to start slowly. Pick one area of responsibility at a time to recruit for, and write your ad accordingly. Recruit two or three volunteers for the position. Set the training schedule and pour into the volunteers the same amount of time and energy you would a new hire.

Committing to adding volunteers to your bookstore team is not a sprint to the finish line. Rather, it’s a long distance race, and God has good plans for your ministry. “For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11).

Jeanne Terrill is director of the welcome ministry at New Hope Church in Manvel, Texas. The welcome ministry includes the bookstore, café, and greeter and usher teams. She will be speaking on this subject in a church bookstore session at the International Christian Retail Show.