By Todd Adkins
We cannot eliminate uncertainty in this time. We can only address what is known and what is knowable. And when it comes to the number of volunteers we will need and in what positions we will need them, there’s a fair amount of uncertainty moving forward, if we are honest. Now, our ideal number of volunteers and where we would place them, we’ve known for a long time. But as we move forward into a new day, the ideal number of volunteers that we have and where we place them is something that we have to figure out. And it will be a changing ideal as new guidelines and behaviors reveal themselves.
But fear not, there are a great many things that are indeed knowable that will allow us to pivot and adapt quickly to those changing circumstances if we uncover a few bits of information now. The amount of preparation we do has a direct correlation with our ability to leverage understanding against that uncertainty and make good, quick decisions that give us and those we serve with confidence in an ever-changing environment.
Here’s the thing, because ministries in our churches often are siloed from one another, we only have an anecdotal idea of who is serving where in the church. As I mentioned before, most volunteers serve in multiple roles, so in order to have a really good understanding to leverage against that uncertainty, we are going to have to, collectively as a church, audit our volunteer roles in every ministry area and then roll that up into one final view. This audit is not going to be easy for some of you, but please understand it is going to save you a great deal of time and frustration down the road.
We are going to use these auditing tools to walk through the following three phases. The first phase is the ministry role audit. Then we will talk about a volunteer role audit.
We want to first identify the ministry area and then we want to identify the existing roles within the ministry. Name every single role, list them all. It’s really important. For each role, you will also then identify the current number of volunteers that you have in that spot. Now you will need to identify whether each role remains as is or is it paused. Paused probably means paused for a season. Finally, is this role needing to be adapted for a new day?
Phase two of the ministry audit is for volunteers specifically. This audit is really important for you to do for every role, even if the position is paused because you may want to re-assign these volunteers to new or vacant roles left by those who can no longer safely serve. It’s time to name names in this audit because we are identifying the ministry area and the role at the top of the page. You will have one page for each role. Then you are going to identify the names of the volunteers serving in the role and then you want to identify how often the serve and in what shifts and service time. Unfortunately, this is also the place where we need to identify those that are part of a vulnerable population as outlined by the CDC because they are at great vulnerability of not being able to serve, so we want to make sure we identify those people.
Phase three is the great roll up. This is not as hard if we have done the heavy lifting before. We can just roll up the individual ministry areas for a very accurate view of what areas in our church as a whole are at greatest risk and what areas have the most volunteer positions that are paused that we might be able to redeploy to our greatest areas of need. You also can dig deeper here to understand who of your volunteers is at greatest risk and perhaps help them find a safer role elsewhere.
There’s someone at your church that you are thinking of right now in that category. Maybe it’s Alan, and Alan has been great on the doors and he is the quarterback of the second service. He’s been there for ten years. But he is in a vulnerable population due to his health and age. Maybe he could be great on the chat line on the online service, or perhaps on the phones during the week. Regardless, we need to identify a place for Alan to serve and use his gifts in service to Christ. You may have already been able to identify a safer place for him to serve in phase two, because in phase two we decided what positions were safe and not safe for vulnerable persons. That’s why this whole auditing process is really important. If not, you may be able to find one in our next step as we walk through newer roles that you may need at your church and also identify the skills that we need in those adjusted roles as well.
Our team wants to help your church respond with vision, understanding, clarity, and agility in the midst of this season. Check out our FREE Guide to Rapidly Recruit Volunteers and Realign Ministries on Ministry Grid here.