This week, now that we’re all back in our offices and kicking off 2013, we’re talking about getting refocused for the new year. Yesterday we looked at refocusing our ministries, and today we’ll keep it going by talking about refocusing our volunteers. 

If you’ve been in ministry for any length of time, you’ve probably already discovered that your volunteers are really important. Like, really, really important. So, ministry leaders, as we hit the ground running in 2013 with all of our new ideas, innovative strategies, and fresh vision, remember – we can’t make the mistake of leaving our volunteers behind. 

Fresh ideas, strategies, and vision in the new year are great. And necessary. And awesome. But if we fail to cast that fresh vision to our volunteers – if we fail to lead them well – our fancy new ideas are probably going to fail too. 

So what do we do? How do we help our volunteers get refocused on their roles and responsibilities in the new year? How do we help them find fresh motivation for the second half of the school year? Well, here are a few things we’re thinking about…


When’s the last time our volunteers heard us say thank you? Have they ever received a hand-written note from us? Do they really feel loved, appreciated, and cared for? This month, as our volunteers get back into the post-holiday grind of work, family, school and giving their time to their church… let’s be intentional about being voices of life and refreshment to their spirits.


We all need that reminder once in a while, don’t we? It’s easy to fall into a routine, to find ourselves going through the motions, to do the “church thing” as an obligation rather than a grateful response to the mission that we’ve been called to. But we can use the start of this new year to remind our volunteers of their significance to families, to the Church, and to God’s mission in the world. In the new year, here’s what we’re working on…

  • I’ll be writing a ridiculous amount of hand-written notes – they’re great vehicles for both vision-casting and spirit-refreshing.
  • We’re getting our Small Group Leaders together in a few small meetings that we call Coffee Talks, where our SGL’s swap stories, share wins and struggles, and then problem-solve together. It’s a super effective way for us to re-cast vision to our team through conversations in a casual, intimate setting.


Even the best plans fail when we don’t have a good system in place for actually making them happen. So if we have expectations, goals, and hopes for our volunteer teams in the new year… doesn’t it just make sense that we should make it as easy as possible for them to succeed in those things? Here’s what that looks like for us…

  • We have 6 things we hope to see our Small Group Leaders achieve in the new year. So we took those 6 things, made them into a checklist, and will be giving those checklists to all of our Small Group Leaders. Then, when they achieve all 6 of their goals, we give them a prize. It’s a simple little tool, but it works! You can grab those editable Small Group Leader goals in our Shop – for free, by the way.
  • We mentioned yesterday that we want to see all of our small groups complete a service project together in their communities this semester. But, like we mentioned, we need to help them pull it off. So this month, we’re working on a new resource that will give them all the information, tips, and contacts they need to choose and easily plan a service project.
  • We’ve also shared in the past about our Small Group Leader Supply Station and Volunteer Library – the headquarters for every tool, supply, and resource we thought our volunteers could possibly need. Now that 2013 is here, the SGL Supply Station and Library will both be getting some retouching and additions.

What about you? How are you helping your volunteers to find some fresh motivation and focus in the new year?