Get Fresh Ministry Ideas from Volunteers

If you’ve been serving in ministry for any length of time, you know how easy it is to get caught up in the administrative tasks, such as ministry scheduling and planning. After spending so much time in the details, looking for fresh, new ideas can be daunting. But you don’t have to do it alone! Ministry volunteers come with a wide range of personalities and perspectives, making them a deep pool of ideas. If you want to gain a fresh look at the work of your church, look no further than your volunteers.

Look to optimize

Before you make the ask, determine what you’re looking for. Getting fresh ideas doesn’t have to mean starting new ministries, although it could. Instead, start by determining if there are any missed opportunities — or new opportunities — that haven’t been explored yet. For example, perhaps the choir traditionally only performs during services. A new idea could be for the choir to work with the outreach team to sing in local assisted living facilities, shelters, and schools. This would simply expand the work of the choir and strengthen the work of the outreach team rather than create a new ministry altogether.

So, in short, before sending out an ask, consider if you’d simply like to build on the ministries you have in place or if you are open to new ministry ideas. Once you’ve defined the scope of what you need, you can more easily ask volunteers for ideas.

Get the word out

Next, let your volunteers know that you want to hear from them. Send an email, text message, or make an announcement at the church. If you use Ministry Scheduler Pro, you can email volunteers using the announcements pane and filter the audience of your email for specific groups of volunteers. Or, send out a general request to all volunteers.

In your email, be specific with your ask and with the level of feedback you’re looking for. If you’re just trying to generate brainstorming ideas, you might ask volunteers to reply to the email with a list of ideas or fill out a quick questionnaire. If you’d rather talk through their ideas than get written feedback, set up times to talk with volunteers in one large group, several small groups, or one-on-one to get feedback.

Consider your audience

Depending on the number of ministry volunteers you have at your church, it might be better to connect with groups of volunteers in the same areas of service. This will keep the conversations focused and the feedback specific, without taking up the time of volunteers in other areas who may not need to talk through the same opportunities. For example, if you meet with choir members, you can talk about new opportunities to minister as a music group without requiring the hospitality team to listen to the opportunities and challenges of the worship team.

Refine with a few

When it comes to brainstorming, the “more the merrier” approach works well. However, when it’s time to sort through all the options, working with just a small group of volunteers might work best. It’ll be faster and easier to delegate and get the plan in motion when there are less people to communicate and plan with. Choose volunteers who can bring experience, energy, and insight into the process of turning visions into realities.

Set realistic goals

When brainstorming, it’s fun to shoot for the moon. But when transitioning into creating an actionable plan, be sure to check your expectations. Consider the volunteers you already have and their current bandwidth for trying new things when determining what to move toward. What’s more, be sure to ask about capabilities when talking with volunteers about their ideas. Ask questions such as, “Who would take responsibility to oversee that?”, “How much cost would be required to implement that?”, or “How big is the learning curve for this new tool?”. This will help keep expectations and plans calibrated, and the conversation focused.

Stay mindful

Stay mindful of the effects of changing circumstances as you begin to put ideas into motion. Amidst the fun of collecting ideas, volunteers may take on too much. The flames of enthusiasm can quickly burn out if the goals are unrealistic. As part of your volunteer management, keep the pace of change reasonable. Alleviate the pain of change by scheduling regular check-ins with volunteers. These can be as informal as a quick conversation in the hallway. Be sure to connect with anyone who took on new or additional duties. And remember, getting new ideas from volunteers doesn’t have to happen only at the onset of planning! You can continue to gain insights by connecting with volunteers even as the ministry is ongoing.

Need more time to connect with your volunteers about fresh ideas for ministry? Consider using Ministry Scheduler Pro to schedule ministries and communicate with volunteers. Spend less time scheduling and more time making your ministries stronger.