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Supporting Volunteers While Social Distancing

By Dr. Wayde Goodall
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Happy volunteer looking at donation box on a sunny day
By ESB Professional/Shutterstock.com
Even though you might not physically see your volunteers during COVID-19, they are most certainly there. Always, always, always keep the communication lines open.

Throughout church history, volunteers have been an incalculable asset to church health and church growth. Prayer groups, small group leaders, Sunday school teachers, youth and children’s workers, musicians, lay preachers, set-up and cleaning crews, etc. have volunteered to walk hand in hand with church leaders to make the church healthy and strong.

In discussions with numerous pastors and parishioners from churches of all sizes, I’ve asked the question, “How can we thank and show appreciation to our team of volunteers.” They are such a gift, and this is the way God intended it to be. Pastors are to, “equip the saints for the work of ministry,” (Ephesians 4:12a, ESV). We must equip, train, disciple, assign, empower, release, coach, and hold them accountable.

How can we support our volunteers in these days of social distancing?

  • Dedicate time to pray for them.
  • Let them know you are praying for them.
  • Assist them emotionally, relationally, and spiritually at every opportunity.
  • Call, email, text, or meet by Zoom with your departmental leaders and ask what their particular volunteers need and what you can do to support them.
  • Draft a letter of thanks and encouragement to be sent to all your volunteers and personally sign it before mailing.
  • Create Zoom meetings to talk to your lead volunteers as a group (along with their staff liaison) to make plans, to develop strategies, and to work together. People love it when they are listened to and their ideas are welcomed.
  • Thank them in your public messages. Give them encouragement and hope.
  • Include them when trying to meet any needs they discover. Ask them to look for needs to be addressed.
  • Suggest ways they can help during this time of social distancing, because most of them really are blessed by helping.

They might like to:

  1. Find out if any of your people have dropped out of church. I often tell myself that people choose what they do for a reason. Why did they stop viewing our services? Perhaps they are depressed, discouraged, fearful, or overwhelmed. Finding them, encouraging them, dropping something off at their doorstep, and just being there for them will help people feel that “my church cares.”
  2. Find ways to connect with the seniors. These folks often feel lonely and isolated, and would appreciate a call, a friend, or perhaps a meal dropped off.
  3. Help you and your team distribute any emergency items that the congregation brings for those in need.

Even though you might not physically see your volunteers during COVID-19, they are most certainly there. Always, always, always keep the communication lines open. Encouraging words from you will bless them and help them know that they are appreciated. Use this time of “social distancing” to develop relationship strategies that show gratitude to your volunteers.

They will love it and love you for it!

© 2020 Wayde Goodall. All rights reserved. Used with Permission. 

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