Volunteer Problems: Solved!

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If you’ve successfully completed these three actions and your volunteer continues to expect you to step in or pick up the slack, initiate a candid conversation by asking, “What can I do to help you be prepared for your ministry?”You’ll either discover how you can better support your volunteer or you’ll learn whether the person is misplaced in the role or ministry.

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—Andee Marks

I have very inconsistent teaching abilities and commitment levels from room to room. How do I address these inconsistencies?

Collectively hold your team accountable to agreed-upon levels of abilities and preparedness. Schedule teacher meetings quarterly. The agenda for your teaching team each meeting needs to include “God-sighting” stories where each teacher verbally contributes to the conversation. Discuss challenges in the class so your teaching team has the opportunity to share issues, inconsistencies, and solutions. Finally, add a “tidbits for teaching” agenda item where your
team works to enhance teaching skills and knowledge. This needs to be hands-on, active learning where every teacher is involved in growing his or her skills.

Aside from a quarterly teacher meeting, give your teachers timely and appropriate feedback regarding the inconsistencies you see. Specifically note the behavior and its impact on children. Brainstorm solutions. Ask tough questions: Is more training necessary? Are the teacher’s passion and skills and the role requirements a mismatch? Would the teacher benefit from being paired with someone who has more skills or experience? Remember: God sent Aaron to be alongside Moses to address Moses’ concerns about speaking (in Exodus). We all need an Aaron in
our respective ministry settings!

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—Eugenia Freiburger

How do I handle volunteers who never prepare for their lessons?

First, it’s important to ensure volunteers serve in their areas of passion, talents, and gifts. Volunteers who love what they do usually don’t need prompting to be ready for their lesson. Therefore, you must ask whether the individual loves teaching or serving children.

If your volunteer loves serving kids, ask how you can help him or her prepare for each lesson. Train the volunteer with appropriate teaching methods, and communicate the expectations of the role.
Periodically affirm and recognize the volunteer, and give timely and appropriate feedback that helps him or her complete responsibilities faithfully. Feedback is important when the responsibilities are fulfilled—and when they’re lacking.

Help your volunteer understand the specific behavior that’s problematic and the specific impact the behavior has on others. For example, “Jane, I see by your room setup that you’ve prepared in advance, which creates a great environment for our children to learn about God.” Or “Jake, I noticed last Sunday you appeared less prepared than we expect for our teachers. When you fail to adequately prepare, the children become restless, their attention wanes, and we miss an important
opportunity to share God’s love with them.”

—Eugenia Freiburger

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