One of our values for our First Impressions team is “Attend One, Serve One.” We want our volunteers to be able to fully engage in worship in one service, then fully engage by serving in another service. It creates a better environment all the way around: better for the health of our team, and better for the experience of our guests. Certainly, A1S1 poses a problem if you only have one service time, but for churches with multiple service options, we’ve found it to be very effective. (For more on A1S1, check out this post.)
If we were to really push the “Attend One, Serve One” model, our concern is our vols would have nearly 30 minutes with nothing to do. What does your team do during the message? Do you have any ideas of ways to keep the team busy without creating busywork?
Certainly there are opportunities for “busywork.” Often we’ll ask teams with some down time to prep handouts or communion for the next service, enter random data from the current service, or help freshen up the lobby / restrooms / sidewalk while the service is in progress. But our default strategy is to host “Volunteer Headquarters” (VHQ) where vols can enjoy a little backstage time off. Here are a few principles we try to follow:
1. Not everyone goes to VHQ. The main reason for the Attend One Serve One strategy is that we want there to be a volunteer presence at all points of the morning. Once the service is well underway, we scale back to a skeleton crew (around 10% of our team) and leave them in place so that they’re available for late-arriving guests. These crews rotate from week to week so that everyone gets to VHQ…most of the time. Related post: You Need a Skeleton Crew
2. VHQ is our living room. If this is a gathering spot for our volunteer family, we want to make it a comfortable hangout. This is difficult in mobile campuses or permanent campuses with very small dedicated VHQ space. However, when possible we provide comfortable chairs or couches, lamps, and soft music.
3. VHQ doesn’t have to be expensive. I know of churches that feed volunteers full meals every time they show up to serve. And while I love the way they care for their people and would love to have the budget for that, I just don’t (and you probably don’t either). So while we always feed our vols, we also try to make snacks and coffee stretch as far as we can. Supplement your Costco granola bars with a homemade casserole. Some of our team loves to bake more than they love to park cars, so we encourage them to serve those who are serving by using the culinary skills they’ve been given.
4. VHQ should be about fun. We have very little agenda in VHQ (the exception is found in the next point). We turn vols loose during the sermon so they can have 40 minutes to hang out, get to know one another, and catch up on the week. While our First Impressions Team isn’t designed to be a small group, it fills that purpose for some of our team members. For that reason, we want to give them plenty of time to build relationships.
5. VHQ should be about vision. Some of our campuses take one or two weekends a month – and no more than five or ten minutes at a time – to cast a little vision, review a Plumbline, or cover new team info. VHQ serves as “ongoing training,” yes, but we don’t want it to be all about training. We try to balance the training with unstructured fun.
6. VHQ allows us to give a great goodbye. Without a hangout environment, I fear that we wouldn’t have volunteers to staff the end of the service: no one to open doors, say “thanks for coming!” or help guests with the next steps. This model allows us to serve our guests at the most crucial times. Related post: Liam Neeson and Bad Goodbyes
To sum it up, A1S1 and VHQ isn’t about keeping teams busy, it’s about keeping them engaged: engaged with the team, and engaged with the task. How do you engage your vols on the weekend? Comment below.
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photo credit: Brett Seay