Every day, hundreds of Explorers are connecting with churches through the Gloo platform looking for prayer, next steps, or answers. And while pastors and staff members can certainly respond, the churches who are most successful with the program actually empower a small team of volunteers to facilitate these conversations. Since they happen throughout the week and at all times of the day, having a team ready to respond is a great way to make a difference in someone’s life. Data shows that response rates from Explorers can climb all the way to 70% when they are responded to within 15 minutes, and the best way to stay on top of that timeframe is to go at it as a team.
1. Adopt a Volunteer-First Mindset
While there are certainly tasks and projects that you could do faster or better, the heart of ministry leadership is “equipping people to do the work of the ministry.” And while it’s great to dive into best practices, strategies, and tactics, one of the fundamental guiding principles you must adopt in your leadership is operating from a volunteer mindset. When we are faced with new ministry opportunities, our first response needs to be “how can I recruit a leader and build a team?” instead of “how can I add this to my already-busy schedule?” You may not need to hire someone, you might need to recruit a volunteer. You might not need a new staff member, you might to develop that volunteer. You probably shouldn’t add something else to your to-do list, you probably need to empower a volunteer.
You can create a team of people, starting with just one person, who love responding to explorers and consider it their personal ministry. This is a non-Sunday morning volunteer role, which means it could be open to a wide variety of people. It’s also a chance to tap into someone’s relational skills in a fresh way. When you start thinking about the possibilities of reaching Explorers through the Gloo platform, don’t think of the additional work you will need to do – think of the volunteer leader you get to raise up to lead the initiative!
2. Ask People Personally
Who is the best person to lead this program? You’re probably not going to find them by making an announcement from the stage or writing a blurb in the next email newsletter. Instead, you’ll want to ask someone personally. This digital volunteer team is a great role for someone who is relationally and digitally savvy. You’ll want to be strategic with the person you ask to lead the team or be a part of the program. Jot down the qualities you’re looking for and then ask God to bring the right person to mind. Then sit down with them and cast vision for the opportunity. Let them know you’ll support them, resource them, and champion the cause. You don’t need a lot of people; you need the right people.
3. Vision First, Training Second
When bringing in someone new, the temptation will be to overload them with resources and training. This isn’t a bad thing since, after all, you want them to be successful. But too much information too early in the process could short-circuit their experience. Certainly share the most important facts with them, but spend the most time talking about the vision for the overall program.
Talk about what could happen. Talk about the ministry conversations they will have. empower a volunteer. Talk about how this new endeavor will help the whole church reach new people. Talking about what’s possible is actually the best form of training you can provide, because you’ll inspire people to stay engaged and be willing to learn when the time is right.
4. Clarify Expectations
One of your most important roles as a leader is that of Chief Clarity Officer. It’s up to you to remind people what is most important. It’s your job to continually remind them where they add the most value. And it’s your job to make sure they know how what they do helps your church fulfill the mission. As important as it is to cast vision, it might even be more important to cast clarity.
As you build a volunteer team to help you respond to explorers, make sure you are clear in what you’re asking them to do. Give people a simple, written job description that clearly articulates how they should respond, where they go for help, and who to talk to if they get stuck. Be honest about the time commitment and put it all in writing. Potential volunteers won’t be scared by this - they will be grateful. And when they know the expectations, they can meet them. This is true for every volunteer role that exists in your church, including existing and new roles.
5. Share Relevant Resources
Once you’ve given them the basics, make sure they know what other resources are available to them and where to find them. Every now and then, shoot them a note with a link to some bite-sized training. Take a look at the Help Center and share a link that feels relevant. When you were in high school, your teachers took you through a specific curriculum to teach you the basics. For better or worse, that’s how we usually teach kids what we think they need to know. Most adults are different. You’re probably not motivated to learn something until you need to know it. You prefer “just-in-time” training.
Where to go now?
We're here to help! Below are some links to resources you can check out that will help you build a passionate, effective team of volunteers. Some of these are also great resources to share with those volunteers to get them trained and ready to respond to Explorers.