Originally published Tuesday, 30 July 2013.
Many church ministries are launched, grown, and sustained by volunteers. Volunteers are the lifeblood of any church. Servanthood is the way we show others that we care. Single moms ministry is one of those tough ministries that can oftentimes require much of the volunteers who serve there. There are many questions that come up in how to best recruit, retain, and train volunteers for such a high-need, high-level ministry.
Here are a few things that we have found work best:
1. Don't assume you only need one "type" of volunteer. There are all types of volunteer opportunities within a single moms support group, when ran effectively. You will need childcare providers, prayer partners, set-up/clean-up crew, food service, speakers, small group leaders, greeters, registration table, and more. The larger the ministry grows, the more opportunities there are for others to come alongside and help serve within the ministry. This takes a wide array of volunteer types.
2. Volunteers do not have to be single moms, but please feel free to use single mothers that are already in your support group to fulfill a volunteer role. This is great for a couple of reasons. Volunteerism gives people value. It gives them something to do when they may feel uncomfortable just sitting around waiting on the event to start. Secondly, single moms that are already part of your group see the value in what your church is doing, so they are more likely to be faithful attendees, thus faithful volunteers.
3. Volunteer training is critical. Too often volunteers enter into a role very excited about serving others, but when they aren't trained properly, they feel that they aren't being best utilized. Set them up for success. Give them ideas on what works in their area of ministry and what doesn't. Once they get started, have discussions with them about what is going really well and what they need help with.
4. Promote team-building with your volunteers by having a Sunday lunch together or some other type of get-together. Volunteers who serve together in single moms' ministries should know each other well, interact outside of their service area, and create an alliance. It will not only make them feel more comfortable working together, but will make new single mothers feel even more comfortable when they visit your group.
5. Allow your volunteers to rest. When volunteers are serving in single moms' ministry week after week, month after month, they can grow weary. Be certain you are communicating with volunteers well enough to know when they are approaching burn-out and need rest.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker who travels the country sharing her personal story of homelessness, abuse, and teen pregnancy. She is founder of the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom, and has appeared on countless radio and television programs. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.