Volunteers are the lifeblood of impactful outreach. However, passion alone doesn’t automatically translate to competence. Harnessing the potential of willing workers requires tailored training and discipleship.
Unfortunately, limited time and constant demands often relegate training to a perpetual back-burner item. But an ounce of prevention through strategic development prevents volunteer frustration and turnover down the road.
Crafting targeted plans need not overwhelm busy leaders either. Following a simple development roadmap can yield great fruit.
Conduct a Needs Assessment
The first step is assessing the current state through questions like:
- Where do volunteers currently need growth? Knowledge, attitudes or character?
- How are volunteers currently trained and discipled? What methods work well versus gaps that exist?
- What resources or systems could be developed to enhance training and discipleship?
- What metrics will indicate progress in volunteer development?
Data gathering methods might include:
- Surveys – Online forms to capture volunteer feedback anonymously
- Interviews – One-on-one discussions to learn detailed perspectives
- Observation – Shadow volunteers doing tasks to pinpoint skill gaps
- Performance Analysis – Review ratings, complaints, errors to identify weak spots
Document the findings to create a clear needs picture. The highest priority gaps become focal points in planning.
Map Discipleship Plans
Discipleship centers on the “being” versus the “doing” – shaping character and identity to become more like Christ. Disciple-making involves:
- Teaching – Scriptural truth and wisdom
- Modeling – Living out values through actions
- Relationship – Heart-level conversations and listening
- Customization – Meeting people where they are
- Encouragement – Affirming gifts, championing progress
- Accountability – Loving structure to spur growth
Map curriculum and formats to address discipleship needs revealed in the assessment, such as:
- Book studies
- Topical workshops
- Mentor meetings
- Peer coaching groups
- Service opportunities
Design The Training Approach
With needs and discipleship focal points defined, next build training to equip volunteers with critical knowledge and skills. Consider:
- Delivery methods – workshops, job shadowing, e-learning etc.
- Schedule – training frequency, length, locations
- Instructors – subject matter experts, mentors
- Learning reinforcement – refreshers, coaching, evaluations
Create a multi-month training calendar. Strike a balance between classroom and practical experience.
Track and Adjust
Once launched, monitor program effectiveness through:
- Participant feedback surveys
- Competency assessments
- Performance improvements
- Leadership nominations
Review insights quarterly to identify adjustments needed based on trends. Celebrate wins!
Intentional volunteer development requires work but pays exponential dividends in engagement, excellence and longevity. People will rise to great heights when equipped well for the journey.