Whiteboard: Robot Church Volunteers?!

March 24th 2015

In this whiteboard session, Rodney outlines three laws of volunteer management and how your church can simplify the process with technology.

Video Transcription:

Hi, welcome to an Elexio Whiteboard. One of my favorite movies in the entire world is I, Robot. This movie takes place in the future at a point in time when robots become as commonplace as vacuum cleaners. Everybody’s got one. I can’t wait till that day happens. Think of the impact on the local church. Our volunteer problems are completely solved. You need volunteers in the nursery? A robot will fill the role. You need volunteers in parking ministry? Robots. Café? Robots. It’s going to be great. But until then, we’re stuck with using human beings to fill our volunteer roles.

Now, calm down. I’m joking. Now, I’m not joking about robots. They’re coming, and they are going to be popular everywhere. But in the local church, it’s the right thing that we will always use humans to fill this role. It’s the right thing, and so today, in our whiteboard, we’re talking about volunteer management.

Real quick, let’s take a look at some numbers related to volunteering. This one is 62 million. That’s the number of people, who on the most recent U.S. census, reported that they gave at least one hour a week in volunteering. That’s awesome. This one is 7 billion. That’s the number of volunteer hours recorded in a year. It’s amazing. Now, an economist took that and did some thinking and said that the value of volunteering to the organizations that get the benefit is $22 an hour. Think about that for your church. What if you had to pay people that much or even a fraction of that to complete and do the things that you are getting from volunteers?

So again, today, in our whiteboard, we’re talking about volunteer management. And I’m no expert, so I interviewed somebody who is. This person has worked in the local church for 20 years in a variety of roles and managed hundreds of volunteers. And from that interview, I distilled three laws of volunteer management. And I’ll use the word VM, and you see it again here. So let’s go over the three laws of volunteer management. A volunteer manager may not devalue a volunteer or, through inaction, allow a volunteer to feel devalued. And that’s really the important part of law number one, this last part about a volunteer feeling devalued. Let’s look at law number two. A volunteer manager must seek biblical guidance when making decisions that affect volunteers. That is law number two. Law number three, a volunteer manager must grow your ministry as long as that growth does not violate laws one and two.

Okay, that is the three laws. They’re designed to be guidance for working with volunteers. Remember, it all came from my interview with this person who’s had both great success and great failures that she admitted and she had learned over the years that if you’ll keep these three things in mind, your volunteer problems certainly won’t go away, but you’ll be well on your way to having valued volunteers. And a valued volunteer’s going to stick with you much more so than someone who doesn’t.

Now, within the confines of our goals here in our whiteboard, we’re going to look at the three laws from a technology perspective and, how can we use technology to help us meet the three laws? And my suggestion is that, if we do that, we’ll end up with, and I’ll abbreviate it again there, I Volunteers. And the I stands for volunteers that are informed and important. That’s an I volunteer, they should be informed and important.

Let’s talk about technology in informing volunteers. We could go a lot of directions here. But I want to focus in on what you can do with your church management software. You’re probably using some kind of database to keep track of people. Maybe you’re using multiple things. Keeping people informed, you want to keep them informed about data. Now, I don’t mean analyzing like volunteer rates and how many people are coming. All of those maybe good things to do. I’m talking about the real basics like volunteer schedules, important announcements about volunteer meetings, important announcements about things that are part of the vision of your ministry. Making sure those people are an I volunteer means you’re making sure that they are informed.

And the thing that the ministry professional told me is, “Don’t count on one technology to do that.” She told me a story of volunteers team she was leading. It had about 50 people in it, so big group. They had decided upon using Facebook as their primary means for communicating important information. And she found out after a period of time that there were some people that were kind of pulling away from the ministry. And the thing that they articulated is that they felt alienated because they didn’t use Facebook. Now, people, that’s a choice. So her point is, to really make sure you’re in law number one and not being here where some inaction is causing a volunteer to feel devalued, is to have a multi-pronged technology approach. So send emails with attached PDFs, things that anybody can read. Post to social media, certainly. Do mass texting or individual texting.

So looking at your church management software, it’s a good idea to see, what capabilities does it have and where do I need to supplement? There are people who can help in those areas. So an I volunteer is an informed volunteer, using many things. And one last thing about technology, we tend to think about technology about things that have little keypads and are modern. But technology is also printing a piece of paper and having a volunteer schedule available for somebody to pick up. So don’t forget those things.

Okay, an I Volunteer also feels important. Now, I’ve been a volunteer, and I still am. And sometimes, I’m in organizations where they choose to have like volunteer appreciation month, where I get like a little candy bar with a little note, like a little clever note, about volunteering. Those things are great. I don’t want to say that you shouldn’t do those. But if that is the sole way in which you are making volunteers feel important, you’re missing the mark. What I mean and what the ministry professional I talked to said is people feel important when you know them, meaning you know their family. You know what is going on in their family. You know about their life in the broader part of your church.

So where does technology fit in there? There are tools that you can utilize. We certainly have them at Elexio, where you can take a smart device, tablet, phone, and pull up instantaneously somebody’s record and double-check a couple of things. As your church grows, it’s going to be harder and harder to keep it all up here. So if you can quickly access it through a mobile app, a little bit about the person. Look to see, has there been a hospital visit in this person’s family. What’s their salvation story? All of those things, keeping track of it and having technology serve you in that way. You’ll go a long way to, again, meeting number one.

Okay, let’s talk a little bit, as we finish up here, what happens if you let yourself not follow the three laws. Again, the three laws are meant to be a circle. You’re constantly in check about your desire to grow your ministry but, oh, is that going to violate number one or number two? Well, as I said, it can happen that if you do let this and if you know the movie I, Robot, you know that things go wrong. And you may have noticed, I’m playing on something fun from that movie. There’s something called the three laws of robotics. And it all goes wrong in that movie. And the robots basically take over the world. So that’s certainly something you don’t want to happen. Well, it would be okay if volunteers took over the world. But what I mean by that is something goes wrong in your volunteer ministry. If you don’t pay attention to the three laws, it could happen, and you might not even know it. And all the sudden, you start seeing people drop out the back of your ministry.

Well, that’s all the time we have today for our Elexio Whiteboard. Thank you as always for watching.

Video transcription by

© Copyright 2024, Ministry Brands Holdings, LLC Privacy & Terms