Expectations for Volunteers

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Many leaders have such a hard time recruiting volunteers to help with any given ministry that they are hesitant to ask anything specific of their workers and just take whatever the people are willing to give, however sporadic or incomplete it might be. Especially in youth and children ministry this is not a good thing. People need consistent adults around them, ones they can build relationships with and turn to for support. Warm bodies that just come and go can in some situations be less helpful than having nothing at all.

There is nothing to fear about communicating your expectations for them clearly to your volunteers. Those who are not willing to help in meaningful ways are not people that you need around. And there will be other people who will only volunteer with specific guidelines and expectations laid out. Youth and children ministry especially can seem like a never ending time vacuum to many people. Written expectations can place limits on people's imaginations to that they feel more comfortable volunteering, knowing what is expected.

Expectations need to be communicated clearly and often. There should be no reason why anyone would not know what was expected of them. This helps especially when something goes wrong because it removes the “we didn't know” excuse and makes it possible to actually fire a volunteer for not meeting those expectations. This helps cover the leaders backside from political backlash because everyone else knows the expectations and that those expectations must be met to be a volunteer. Any question about why they can't volunteer can be quickly resolved by pointing them to the written expectations for ministry.

While micromanaging is not something expectation sheets should do, nothing is too obvious not to state directly. See the Unwritten Laws file for an example of some of the things that you might not think to cover but are necessary. More than one church has been brought down because they couldn't fire a youth worker who was dating a student, because they had never said that was wrong. It was assumed, but assumptions are not enough to fire someone. Be explicit.

Besides the more obvious things of events to come to, attendance, time expectations, etc, make sure to include things that do not just deal with the particular ministry the person is volunteering for. A vibrant spiritual life and a way to get fed outside of volunteering is essential for all people. Make sure to communicate that you expect people to be looking after their own spiritual well-being, and how.

For more ideas, here are some examples of written expectations for volunteers at a youth group. These examples were written and used by Mike Kipp at College Church of the Nazarene in Nampa, Idaho.