Do volunteers get “time off for good behavior”? That’s an old term from the prison system. Sometimes volunteers get locked into a position and feel like they are serving a life sentence.
Experts often recommend that we recruit volunteers for a fixed length of time. Sunday School teachers, for example, are asked to serve for a calendar year. But when the end of the year rolls around, do they have an all-or-nothing choice — stay for another 52 weeks or quit?
A good pool of substitute teachers helps somewhat. But what about offering a refreshing break?
Some ministries in the church have a built-in break for the summer. Most regular Sunday morning roles, though, do not. How can you give volunteers (or yourself) some time off? Here are some possibilities:
1. Take a good, solid break for the summer, if possible.
I remember being president of an adult choir when the director suggested that we let the choir have the summer off. We met every other week for a while, which confused us all and never really gave us a break. The next year, we took the whole summer off. I was amazed at how energetic and reinvigorated the choir members were when they came back. And they did come back.
2. Give your volunteers a vacation.
If you are a grown up, you usually take a week or two (maybe more) for a summer vacation. The purpose is rest and relaxation, which is why we joke about needing a vacation to recuperate if we travel or stay active the whole time. Volunteers need rest and relaxation, too, even if they love what they do. Rotate the team, pull in some substitutes or close the ministry for a couple of weeks so everyone can have a few weeks off.
3. Scale back the program to take a breather.
Lighten up. Create a “summer” event that is less intense. Instead of sessions with a short video, deep discussion, and homework, try a good movie. Some movies have discussion guides available that take all the stress out of planning.
4. Ramp up your program to take a break.
Go big or go home? Sometimes you can pull everyone into the auditorium for a big event. Small and medium classes are great for interaction and building relationships. But getting everyone into a big group gives the small-group leaders a break from preparation and allows a few of them to take the day off.
Find the mix of alternatives that work for you and your ministry.
Got ideas? Post a comment.