Q&A: Do You Schedule Your Volunteers?
Do your volunteers serve according to a schedule? In other words, do specific people serve on specific teams on specific weeks?
[Christy Burke, Director of Connections and Guest Services, Bridgeway Church]
The chances are really good some people are going to think this answer is insane.
We don’t schedule our Guest Services volunteers. Rather, we ask them to abide by an “attend one, serve one” rhythm. And then serve every week.
But before I leave you hanging off the cliff of insanity, let me give some rationale behind no scheduling, and how we try to make no schedule work.
No schedule means way less administrative headaches. If there’s not a schedule to keep up with, that means there’s no spreadsheet to manage, no last-minute changes to be made, and no Saturday night panicked phone calls from a vacationing volunteer.
We realize volunteers have a life. Everyone goes on vacation. Everyone’s grandma has a birthday brunch that’s four hours down the road. “Serve every week” means that volunteers are around most weeks. And if they’re not…
Vacationing vols should (a) find a sub and (b) inform their team leader. Most volunteers will have a counterpart at another service. If they’re going to be out, they are encouraged to get their own replacement and then give their team lead a heads up.
“Two weekends or less” vols go to the sub team. Meaning, if on average you can only give one or two weekends per month, then you don’t have a regular slot on the parking team, the seating team, etc. You go to the substitute team, which means you’re used any time you show up, but you will go where the needs are.
This is a good idea…on paper. Like most rules of thumb, the guidelines above aren’t always neatly followed. Some of our campuses utilize a different plan. Some volunteer teams have taken it upon themselves to hack a shared schedule. But when it’s followed…
Here are the benefits of serving weekly:
Volunteers become specialists. If they’re in the same role every week, they get to know their job really, really well. And that means they’re more comfortable in their role.
Volunteers become known. Known to each other, yes. But more importantly, known to our guests. In a large church, a familiar face standing at a familiar door brings some familiar comfort.
Volunteers serve regularly. This one is obvious. But if volunteers are serving every two weeks, or once per month, or whatever – and then they’re out of town on their “on” week – they could go multiple weeks without serving.
To be clear, this is our plan. It’s not the plan, not the best plan, not even a necessarily better plan than what you have. But we’ve been abiding by the “serve weekly” plan for a long time now, and it seems to work.
How do you schedule your volunteers?
At our church we have a single fairly large service (400-450 per week) and we are on monthly rotations. That means that each month a team is on for the entire month and then usually off the following month. It’s nice that we have enough volunteers to have this kind of rotation and it provides some consistency, and yet breaks at the same time. if someone is out on one of their weekends, we have a list of replacements to contact to fill the slot.