This post is part of a series on 7 Keys to an Effective Volunteer Training System.
Content is king
I don’t know where I heard that before, but I have certainly found it to be true. Andy Stanley and the North Point staff define an irresistible environment as one that has 3 things:
- Appealing Context
- Engaging Presentation
- Helpful Content
I do believe an irresistible environment needs all 3, but people will put up with an average context and presentation if the content is excellent. A terrible context and presentation may distract them from ever receiving the content, so they can’t be neglected.
4 Types of Helpful Volunteer Training Content
When it comes to training volunteers, content is king there too. They’ll keep coming back for helpful content. Here are 4 types of helpful content to use in volunteer trainings.
Vision is helpful because it answers the question – Why? Why does our church exist? Why do we do children’s ministry or student ministry? Why do we need volunteers? Why do we do it this way? What we do and how we do it are important, but they engage the mind. Why engages the heart.
In Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, he asserts that people are motivated by 3 key factors, autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Vision clarifies a volunteer’s purpose.
Reggie Joiner says strategy is a plan of action with an end in mind. Strategy is how we accomplish our mission and vision. Strategy is a single term that encompasses a vast collection of systems and processes. Think of strategy as a map. You have a map for how to reach new students, how to disciple kids, how to partner with parents, how to care for leaders, and so on. When people understand your strategy better, they can do their part better as well. They can also champion it to others.
The more volunteers understand your strategy, the less they need to be managed. That helps them feel the autonomy Daniel Pink writes about.
Every volunteer role has a particular set of skills (not that kind) that would be ideal for someone to have if they want to thrive in that role. The ability to relate well to others, to coach, to organize, to teach, to provide technical support, to sing, etc. In Daniel Pink’s book, this would relate to mastery. People want to be good at what they do and help the ministry succeed in the process.
There are a small number of volunteer roles that may appear to require very little leadership, but the vast majority of volunteer roles either require leadership or would be greatly improved through leadership growth. John Maxwell says “leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less”.
Every volunteer role has influence. It’s important to take time to train volunteers on how to grow their leadership ability and leverage the influence they have. Train them to replace themselves and mentor other leaders. Train them to use their influence with kids, students and parents to challenge and encourage them to take steps forward in their journey.
I find our training content typically falls in one of those categories, and we usually hit at least two at each training event.
What type of content do you train on?
How do you find and prepare training content?