Volunteer training can transform your ministry from mediocre to effective. Yet, when ministry leaders begin to plan volunteer training sessions, they are often at a loss as to what types of training volunteers need.
We have worked with volunteers in all types of ministries – small and large. Over the years, we have realized there are seven basic types of training that help truly transform volunteers and ministries. You don’t necessarily need to cover every area in one session, but all should be provided and re-visited regularly – even with your experienced volunteers.
- Safety Training. This includes all of your child and youth safety procedures. It should include things like best practices for classroom management, rules designed to protect volunteers and students from potential issues, ways to protect students from predators and non-custodial relatives, basic first aid and CPR. Participants should also leave with written reminders, and policies should be available online and in classrooms for volunteers and parents. (Note: Criminal records checks and references should be run on every volunteer before they are allowed to work with young people.)
- Creating Effective Bible Lessons. This should include ways teachers need to adapt your curriculum to more effectively reach your students. (See our free Bible Curriculum Evaluation Tool for more information on this topic.) Teachers should also learn how to change or create activities that are meaningful, memorable, hands-on, and fun. You may also want to cover topics like how to ask better questions so students can progress in understanding of the Bible, how to evaluate the effectiveness of their classes and the basics of faith sharing with older students. More advanced classes can cover many of the topics in our blog posts on subjects like the value of learning objectives, guiding questions, interesting facts and more.
- Classroom Management. This can include a review of your basic safety policies. It should also teach volunteers effective techniques for managing classroom behaviors so all students can learn. You may also want to give a list of acceptable and unacceptable consequences volunteers can use when there are problems with student behavior. Training in this area can also cover topics like managing the flow of the class and managing time well.
- Special Needs. To be truly reflecting God’s love, your ministries should not only welcome, but also seek out children and teens with special needs to attend your classes. These children and teens should be in the same classes with your other students whenever possible. This means your volunteers will need special training to really teach many of these young people. Giving them ways to adapt curriculum and work with both the children with special needs and those without, will help them all grow in meaningful ways from the shared experiences in your classes.
- Service. Service projects and mission work can help children and teens begin to really put the pieces of living a Christian life together in their own lives. Or not. There are certain ways to “do” service so students grow spiritually in meaningful, long-term ways. Merely, throwing together a project may provide no opportunities for student growth and learning. Teaching volunteers how to do meaningful service with students can change everything.
- Mentoring. For your ministry to really have a meaningful impact on students and their families, you will want to encourage volunteers to mentor students and/or parents outside of class. Many will feel unequipped to do so. Providing training on mentoring can help them make that transition and add more depth to your ministry.
- Personal Spiritual Health. Your volunteers will find themselves burning out spiritually if they aren’t careful. Having a session where they are encouraged to read the Bible for their own spiritual growth and health, have an active and intentional prayer life and to find healthy ways to be encouraged and help accountable in their Christian walk can strengthen your volunteers and your ministry.
Sounds like a lot, but if you really want to make a meaningful difference in the spiritual lives of children and teens, you and your volunteers must embrace the idea of constant training. A ministry where the leaders and volunteers are constantly learning, growing and improving will be a ministry that’s probably doing the same.
We have lots of free resources to help you with your volunteer training, that you can also send home with attendees. If you are still reluctant to provide this training your self, please contact us about coming to your location and providing workshops for your volunteers.