7 Keys to an Effective Volunteer Training System

volunteerI recently had a good conversation with another family ministry leader who was looking to improve his volunteer training system. One of the biggest challenges ministry leaders face is in training and equipping volunteers on their teams, and we got to share ideas and learn from each other.

In many cases, training and coaching is not a core strength or skill for the leader. In all cases, Sunday is always coming and the pressure of being ready for the weekend, along with everything else (meetings, events, care, etc.), pushes out time for investing in volunteers.

At CCC we have utilized a number of different strategies for volunteer training and we’ve settled in on a pretty consistent system. We continue to improve that system, and I’ve found these 7 Keys to be helpful in creating and maintaining an effective volunteer training plan. I’ll unpack each one in a separate blog post, but here they are.

Strong Onboarding

The first step in having an effective training system for volunteers is doing the best job we can when they begin serving. This includes orientations, learning the environment they’ll serve in, the role they’ll play, and being partnered with someone who can coach them early on.

Sustainable Rhythm

Once volunteers are in place, it’s important to have a rhythm for volunteer trainings. That rhythm will differ depending on your specific context, but the key is figuring out the best rhythm and making sure it’s sustainable.

Helpful Content

Good volunteers are always hungry for content that will help them have a greater impact in their role. They are not, however, open to giving up their time for something that seems like a waste. Helpful content is required to develop volunteers and make them want to attend training events.

Personal Invites

It’s really easy to mass-invite volunteers to a training event, and we should do that. But, we also have to include personal invites somewhere in the process if we want everyone to show up.

Follow Up Accountability

Follow up after a training is essential for people who attended and those who missed. There are 3 different types of follow ups needed after a training, and all 3 are necessary if you want the best engagement possible.

Easy to Attend

Training events need to be as easy to attend as possible. You can’t appease everyone, but you can do a number of things to take away excuses people have for not attending training events.

Can’t Miss Culture

The best way to have strong participation in volunteer trainings is to make the events themselves have a “can’t miss” feel to them. What can you do to make those who attend feel glad they did and want to come next time?

I’ll dig down into each one of these in this series of posts, and I’d love to hear from you as I do.

What keys have you learned?

What challenges have you faced?

Vital Signs: Metrics to Help Gauge Your Church’s Health

vitalsignsWhen it comes to consultants who can help churches, there are none better than Tony Morgan and the Unstuck Group. Tony has had the opportunity to work alongside a ton of churches and help them measure their health, define their strategy, assess staffing, and much more. After working with over 100 churches, Tony has used that experience to create numerous resources to help churches. One such resource is Vital Signs.

Vital Signs

Vital Signs is an eBook packed with metrics, or benchmarks, leaders can use to evaluate their church’s health. It helps you answer a number of questions, such as:

  • How many kids should be attending? 
  • How many students should be involved?
  • How many people should we baptize each year?
  • How much should we expect the average person to give each year?
  • What percentage of our attenders should be involved in groups? Serving on ministry teams?

Metrics don’t tell the whole story, but they do tell a huge piece of it. We record and monitor a large number of health metrics, including all of what’s in Vital Signs, to help us keep a pulse on the health of CCC.

Visitor Benchmarks

There is one metric not included in Vital Signs that I realized is hard to find a benchmark on, and that’s how many visitors a church should see in a year. I did find one book with a benchmark, but I’m also going to ask for your help to get a picture of what your church has experienced. Check back in a couple days to see how you can help.

What metrics are you not measuring, but feel like you should be?

15 Ways to Promote Your Church Event for a Better Turnout

Promote Church Event

If you serve on staff in children’s ministry or student ministry, you probably put on some important events each year. Hopefully you’re only doing events that really help people take steps in their journey, so you obviously want as many people to come as possible. See Tony’s post about Are Events Killing the Church for more on that topic.

For events we want to continue doing, we all know communicating and promotion go a long way toward helping people attend. In my opinion, there is no better promotion than word of mouth from establishing a history of excellent events.

However, you have to start somewhere, and you always have to promote with the first time attender in mind. Here are 15 ways you can promote your next event. Tip: you might want to save this to use as a checklist for each event you promote.

  1. Church Website – Every event that’s open to the church should be on your website 6-8 weeks out. If sign up is needed, include a way to sign up online if possible. You can do this through Google Forms if needed.
  2. Church Facebook Page – Schedule 2-4 posts on your church Facebook page and be sure to include a good image and a link to the web page about the event. Optionally, you can pay to “boost” the post to ensure it hits the most people.
  3. Church Blog – Write 2-3 blog posts about the event, but try to make them different from the website by including stories or something else designed to see it from a different perspective.
  4. Church Program – Be sure to include it in the church program/bulletin. It’s usually one of the top 3 ways people get information about events in your church.
  5. Printed Mailer – We use these for bigger events, but creating a custom mailer (postcard or 8.5×5.5 size) and sending it to people’s homes is a great way to bring attention to an event. We use Overnight Prints for a lot of our stuff.
  6. Invite Cards (Business Card Size) – Create business cards designed for people to hand out as invitations.
  7. Instagram – Put pictures on your church, ministry, or even personal Instagram account related to the event to build up excitement.
  8. Personal Facebook/Twitter Account – Post a couple updates on your personal Facebook or Twitter account to promote the event.
  9. Mass Email – Create a well-designed email in MailChimp and send it to anyone in the church database it applies to.
  10. Talk About It In Small Groups/Classes – This doesn’t work in every church, but see if your church’s small group leaders can intentionally mention it in their small group one week.
  11.  Interview Someone About It – You could do this live in service or via video, but interview someone close to the event about the event itself. Make it fun and informative.
  12.  Write Personal Notes – Have your children’s and student ministry small group leaders write personal notes on a card with information about the event, inviting them to it.
  13. Banner – Purchase a banner to display in the lobby or in your children/student environment. If this is an annual event, the investment is more than worth it. We use Group Imaging for most of our banners/displays.
  14. Create a Video – The video could include highlights of previous events. It could be a comical Top 10 Reasons to Attend. Or, it could be a simple voice-over style video with key information about the event. Videos are great because they can be used more than once in multiple settings. But, they’re hard to do well, so that’s why I list it near the bottom.
  15. Announcement From Stage – I saved this for last, as most of us probably need to use the stage less and less for event promotion. It is effective, but my approach is to create a promotion plan for each event that would work well without any mention of it in services.

What ways have you found to be the most effective at promoting events?

What ideas have you used that aren’t on this list? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Free Resources From 12Stone Church

At the Orange Conference last week I met a ton of Family Pastors / NextGen Pastors (lead birth through high school). It was great to connect and talk with so many people who are in the same role, one that is fairly new in the Church. Kenny Conley helped connect everyone in that role, in addition to the opportunity to meet other leaders at the networking event on Thursday night.

At the networking event, hosted by 12Stone Church, I met their Pastor of Next Generation Ministry, Dr. Kevin Monahan. Kevin is a sharp guy with a huge responsibility, leading family ministry for a church of 18,000 spread over 4 campuses. In addition, 12Stone plans to launch 5 campuses simultaneously in January 2015!

Free Resources

Something else I learned is that 12Stone Church now gives away a ton of their resources for free. Messages, series, staff review guides, job descriptions, training manuals, and other resources that may help your ministry. You can get them all at:



Another Project Management Option: Asana

asanaIn the last post I talked about 5PM, a great project management solution to use in ministry. Another project management solution I have used and like is Asana. Asana offers many of the same project management features, specifically:

  • Multiple projects.
  • Multiple users.
  • Tasks and subtasks with owners, due dates, comments, file storage, and more.
  • Email reminders.
  • Timelines and reports.

One great thing about Asana is that the base version is FREE. Asana also has apps for Android & iPhone that are really good. If you haven’t used a project management solution before, it might be good to start with the free version of Asana and try it out.