3 Questions To Ask New Volunteers

“Chris, you say that you give us responsibility, but your quick to take it away.”  Boom.  It was like I had been punched in the gut.  It was some of the most brutal truth I had received in my first 3 years of youth ministry.  She was right, I had too much control.  What added to the shock was this was coming from a volunteer who had only been serving for 6 months.

If you want a fresh perspective on how you are doing in ministry, you need to ask your new volunteers.  They have not been jaded by the experience.  They are not deep enough in the trenches to be consumed by the day to day.  Asking your new volunteers for insight and perspective is essential to your ministry’s growth.

So, what questions should you ask?  Ones that will allow them to help you see what you’ve missed by being in the trenches too long.  Three questions that are essential to ask new volunteers are:

Do You Feel Prepared Walking In?

Serving in ministry for the first time can be intimidating.  If anyone knows this it’s your new volunteers.  Asking them whether or not they feel prepared is key to your ministry’s organization.  If the answer is, “No” look at the systems that help them prepare.  Are you:

  • Sending Out Emails With Reminders?
  • Providing Materials With Plenty Of Time?
  • Giving Them Clear Instruction On What It Is They Need To Do?

Prepare them well and you’ll build confidence.  Confident volunteers will become competent leaders.

What Doesn’t Make Sense?

You’ve been in the trenches so long that everything makes sense.  That’s because it’s been left up to assumption.  Ask your volunteers to tell you what does not make sense.  They’ll open your eyes to what needs to be tweaked, changed and even eliminated.  You might discover that one thing that’s been holding you back.

Receive their insight with humility.  The worst thing you can do is get defensive.  Write down what they say and determine later if it’s valid.

Do You Know The Vision?

A volunteer that doesn’t know the vision is one who is guessing.  This can be dangerous because it can lead to mistakes and unnecessary risk.  Worst, it can lead to misalignment.  In the end this will not only slow your team down it can destroy it from the inside out.

If your new volunteers do not know the vision, help them memorize.  Communicate it continuously so that in the end they are saying, “Enough, I know it already!”  It’ll let them know that the vision is that important.

Schedule that time to sit with new volunteers.  Ask them bold questions and receive the answers you need to clean up your ministry.  It might be difficult at first, but the reward is worth it.

What other questions should we be asking new volunteers?






Chris Wesley

Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. Chris is passionate about serving alongside of in the trenches youth ministers. On top of full time ministry Chris mentors through the prison ministry unCuffed and writes on his blog Marathon Youth Ministry. For fun Chris hangs with his family, cooks in the kitchen and runs an obscene amount of miles.

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