There are three simple steps to building a strong team of volunteers: clear communication, passionate people, and empowering encouragement. When it comes to developing people and building teams, we must understand the importance of each of these.

I understand that saying you can build a team in three simple steps seems to diminish the amount of work put into the process. However, in an overview, you can see how each of these items encompasses several traits and tasks.

Clear Communication

Play this scenario out in your head: You and a team member each write your expectations for their role. On the count of three, you reveal your answers. Now ask yourself this: would the answers match? Is your team on the same page as you are when it comes to responsibilities and overall expectations?

If I were to ask three individual team members about the vision and direction of your team, would I get three different answers? A winning team must work toward one common goal, and that begins with clear and consistent communication

Communication is a vital part of managing any team. In this digital age, we are bombarded with information. This means the details we send are competing with social media posts, TV shows, books, podcasts, news articles, shopping lists, songs, to-do lists, and everyday conversations that fill our brains.

Keep Things Clear and Concise

Don’t let your message get lost in the mix. Make communication consistent so team members can easily find and remember important details. Keep it concise and to the point. 

Communicate clearly from the start. Before a person ever signs up for your team, the expectations and responsibilities should be lined out in conversation and in writing. Volunteers need to know exactly what they are signing up for.

My experience from working for several years in children’s ministry has proven it is very tempting to hold back some responsibilities for fear you will scare someone off. However, it is better to scare them off before they start than to be left with a volunteer who has a terrible experience and walks away from serving completely.

Make sure they know the good, bad, and ugly of serving before they ever start, so they can enter fully prepared. If they do not think they are up for it, find a different role that is better suited, and save everyone a lot of heartache. 

A winning team must work toward one common goal, and that begins with clear and consistent communication. 

Practical Steps

Serving can be a real blessing to everyone when we are using our gifts and talents to do something we are passionate about. Avoid the temptation to sign someone up simply because you need a person with a pulse to fill a position.

Serving is so much more than simply showing up. Here are some practical steps for clearly communicating expectations:

  • When a team member signs on, send a welcome email with a digital copy of expectations. Include links to videos, curriculum, scheduling, and other important details. Make the same information available on paper as well.
  • Go over the information verbally in person.
  • Frequently post simple reminders on social media, via text or email, and in person.
  • Publicly honor team members who exceed expectations. 
  • Don’t be afraid to confront a team member individually when expectations are not being met. It may be a simple misunderstanding. A private conversation with the team member may reveal they would be better suited in another role. 
  • Model all expected behaviors. Lead by example. Show—don’t just tell.

Serving is so much more than simply showing up.

Passionate People

There will be a natural alignment that takes place within the team when expectations are clearly communicated. However, this is only part of the bigger picture. Who you are communicating with is important as well.

You are building a winning team, which means your players need to be passionate about their positions. Who do you have serving and where?

Make sure each person is doing a job that is suited to their talents and passion. Match the task to the talent. You are not going to put your most bubbly and energetic person alone in the supply closet organizing bins.

It also wouldn’t make sense to assign someone who can’t handle crying as a leader in the nursery. Put people in a position to win by putting them in a position they are passionate about. 

Ask yourself these questions when assigning roles to new team members:

  1. What are they passionate about?
  2. What are they good at?
  3. Are there ministry areas that require their specific skill sets?
Portrait of happy young woman in kitchen
Image Credit: Oliver Rossi/Stone/Getty Images

Empowering Encouragement

As you continue to build and develop your team of passionate people using clear communication, remember to encourage them continually. These volunteers are giving their time and talent to serve.

How are you empowering them to excel in their role? Clearly laying out responsibilities is one way to empower team members. Give practical steps and tools to meet expectations. For example, if you want classroom leaders to keep cabinets and countertops organized, provide a system of organization for them.

Walk them through the processes and make sure they clearly understand the what, why, and how. Empower them to succeed in this role by continually providing encouragement and additional resources.

When you have clearly communicated roles to passionate people who are in the right positions, you will find they soon begin to take ownership of their position. They get excited about the work being done and want to make it the best possible.

These leaders will be coming to you with ideas and plans to take ministry to the next level. Develop the right people through clear communication and empower them to succeed. Encourage them often and remind them of the value they bring. 

When you have a team of people who understand their roles, are passionate about their position, and are empowered to meet the expectations, you will have a winning team