How forgiving is your ministry with volunteers?
How many times can someone mess up and still be welcome?
These are questions Jim Wideman asks in his book, Volunteers That Stick. I think Jim hits on a crucial component of any ministry—the grace factor! This can be a drawing card for new volunteers—and a key to keeping current volunteers for the long haul. Read this excerpt from Jim’s book and see if you agree…
Here are three ways to create a forgiving culture:
1. Be gracious.
Extend the same grace to others that you’ve received. When you first started in children’s ministry, you didn’t know how to deliver a children’s sermon, either. You made all the mistakes that you’re watching your volunteers make. So come alongside them, put a hand on their shoulders, and train them. And be gentle as you do it.
2. Share stories about your own failures.
Tell them about that time you were making balloon animals and got something wrong, and you managed to make a sculpture that was way inappropriate. Or the time you couldn’t get the curtains open on the puppet stage. Or how you managed to forget a meeting and left twenty parents sitting in a room without a leader. Stories like that tell your team you understand messing up. And while you don’t encourage mistakes, it’s not the end of the world.
3. Have a sense of humor.
All wasn’t lost when the bus driver accidentally backed into the senior pastor’s new car, right? The church won’t close down because your nursery team leader forgot to take out the dirty diapers after Wednesday night’s service. So don’t act like those situations are the worst thing that’s ever happened.
Look at it this way: After that nursery supervisor has to take care of the mess on Sunday morning and air out the room, that’s a mistake she’ll never make again, guaranteed. Buy her an air freshener, a couple of nose plugs, and a card telling her you’re glad she’s on the team. Let her know you forgive her.
Be forgiving and that’s what will come back to you—again and again.
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