3 Fundamentals of Team Development Every Volunteer Needs

When your team is growing, kids and families will grow too.
5 min read

When it comes to team development, people are either growing or slowing. There’s no such thing as neutral.

Imagine you’re riding a bicycle, and you’re building up a little speed, and maybe huffing and puffing a bit. Then you decide to stop pedaling and just roll along. As you catch your breath, you think to yourself, This is a fun ride!

But by the time you finish that thought, you’re slowing down. You’re still moving along, but you’re already losing momentum.

The only way to keep momentum is to keep pedaling.

girl bike team development volunteers
Image credit: Robert Reader/Moment/Getty Images

Now translate this story to volunteers. Yes, you want them to enjoy the ride. But you also want them to keep pedaling and experiencing momentum. They don’t have to set speed records or pop wheelies. But you want to help them keep moving and growing.

Together with you, volunteers become pacesetters for the ministry of the church. When your team is growing, kids and families will grow too.

Everyone who comes through the door of the church will pick up on the energy of your team. People will see the joy of the Lord in your team before anyone speaks a word or sings a note.

Team Development Basics

I think of three action words associated with volunteer team development.

The first two words—develop and entrust—are things you can do. The third is the result—thrive.

1. Develop them as people

Your volunteers are more than the spots they fill. Learn about their personal and family backgrounds, as well as the talents and abilities they bring to serving.

What makes them smile? What have they been reading recently in Scripture? When was the last time you or a member of your team prayed for them by name?

We often get seduced into thinking that paperwork, planning, and policies are most important in leadership. Do these items need attention? Of course. But a great leader finds the balance between managing tasks and developing people.

Relationships are your number-one asset, so don’t neglect team development.

Encourage volunteers when their lives display love, joy, peace, kindness, and other fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). These character traits will bless the team and the ministry, no matter what task is at hand.

Equip them with good resources and training that bring out the best they have to offer.

The more you know your volunteers, the more freedom you have to focus on what will help them keep growing.

A great leader finds the balance between managing tasks and developing people.

2. Entrust them with responsibility

When volunteers take ownership in their role and responsibility, they will become more passionate about serving.

Remember, passionate doesn’t mean perfect.

People can’t strengthen a muscle if they never get to exercise it. At first, the muscle might be weak or uncoordinated, but it will gain strength and ability with every opportunity.

mom daughters strong team development volunteers
Image credit: Orbon Alija/E+/Getty Images

To boost your confidence and theirs, help volunteers discover their spiritual gifts. You can refer them to a website like SpiritualGiftsTest.com for a free assessment. This is a fantastic tool for team development!

Learning how God has uniquely gifted them will foster the use of their gifts and help you delegate more effectively. Maybe you would benefit from taking this assessment too, even if it’s just a refresher.

Ephesians 4 is one of several passages of Scripture that talk about spiritual gifts and their purpose:

. . . to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:12–13

Do you see any mention there of filling volunteer vacancies with spare parts? No! This message is about getting people involved and growing in ministry.

Maturity follows responsibility. Entrust your volunteers with the opportunity to put their gifts into practice, and they’ll grow!

Growing Volunteers cover

Growing Volunteers: Building the Body of Christ in Ministry to Kids and Families

Ministry coach Byron Ragains empowers you minister TO your volunteers, not just through them. It’s a game changer!
Free Guide
Growing Volunteers cover

Growing Volunteers: Building the Body of Christ in Ministry to Kids and Families

Ministry coach Byron Ragains empowers you minister TO your volunteers, not just through them. It’s a game changer!
Free Guide
Growing Volunteers cover

Growing Volunteers: Building the Body of Christ in Ministry to Kids and Families

Ministry coach Byron Ragains empowers you minister TO your volunteers, not just through them. It’s a game changer!
Free Guide

3. Thrive in ministry together

When you develop your volunteers and entrust them with responsibility toward a common goal, the whole team thrives. The parts of the body of Christ work together to do more than one part could ever do alone.

Here’s why is it so crucial to invest in volunteer team development: The health of your ministry will never exceed the health of the people who are serving.

Make sure your volunteers are drinking deep from God’s Word and enjoying a vibrant relationship with Jesus so they can help kids and families do the same. The ripple effects of Living Water are what the kingdom of God is all about.

2 women rowboat team development volunteers
Image credit: Plume Creative/DigitalVision/Getty Images

And speaking of thriving, who’s investing in you as a leader?

This is a really big deal. More than likely, you have someone within your church or faith community who would love to mentor and support you. Maybe for a season. Or maybe on a monthly basis.

You no doubt have friends who are giants in their fields (whether that’s in the area of human resources, technology, training, or something else)—and they want to see you soar in your role as a church leader. Invite them to coffee or lunch. Establish trust and begin asking questions. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and learn from them.

The health of your ministry will never exceed the health of the people who are serving.

Do you ever struggle to have difficult conversations with your volunteers? Check out these practical ideas on handling awkward/icky/difficult children’s ministry issues!

Then celebrate your team with easy ideas for volunteer appreciation!

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  Updated on July 23, 2019

About the Author

  • Byron Ragains has a contagious passion for people and the local church. As the director of strategic ministry networking for David C Cook, he travels the United States to create conversation among church leaders and equip them with awesome learning resources. He is a champion for Sunday school teachers who do the Lord’s work with precious kids, and he loves speaking to inspire volunteers as they influence today’s generations. Byron lives in Chicagoland with his family and loves the Chicago Cubs!

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