OneLife Church is a Juicys Winner

(The Juicys are a way to recognize and reward churches who’ve worked to improve their church communications during the last year. It includes giving them a grant to jump-start their next project. This week we're announcing the 2013 winners. There are five in total. Two are larger churches and three are smaller churches.)

Recruiting and keeping volunteers is a challenge for churches of all sizes. Some can’t get members involved while others overwork them to the point of burnout.

OneLife Church, a 400-member church in Knoxville, Tennessee, has always been intentional about recruiting and trading volunteers. But recently they realized volunteers weren’t sticking around.

“We noticed that we were experiencing higher than normal attrition, specifically amongst our newer volunteers, which indicated to us that it wasn’t burnout, but rather failure to solidify the relationship early on in the process,” explains Executive Director Scott Taylor.

OneLife decided to revamp their volunteer orientation process. They kept a program called Test Drive that pairs volunteer gifts with positions, but changed how it was presented. Instead of a lecture-style presentation of the church’s core values, OneLife now uses a mix of funny and serious videos to make it a multimedia event. Additionally, the church keeps Test Drive groups together when they first volunteer so people feel less nervous since they know someone already.

Taylor says, “When looking at those who choose to volunteer we recognized it was less about them buying into the overall mission and more about them wanting to connect. By quickly forming groups and relationships the desire and opportunity to connect is immediately evident.”

For OneLife, volunteers are important and significant. More than half of the church’s members volunteer. But it wasn’t just the numbers that impressed one our judges. It was their goal of continually evaluating and improving the volunteer process.

“It sounds like they had a volunteer culture that was better than most churches, but they saw even greater potential to expand on that,” he says. “The optimization of this project really feels like they are taking this program from ‘good to great’ and are honed in on their mission and what this church is all about.”

The volunteer guide the church uses impressed another judge. (You can download it here.) It very clearly lays out the roles of each volunteer position and the expectations for serving.

This judge said, “Too often, churches fail at telling a volunteer what is expected of them. I think volunteers want to feel like they’re a part of something important instead of being left in the dark about what they should be doing.”

Taylor says this kind of volunteer process is easily replicable, but warns other churches not to underestimate the infrastructure and dedication it takes to execute it well.

For their next project, OneLife wants to address check-in at their children’s area. Barcode or finger scanners could reduce lines forming for their rapidly expanding children’s ministry.

“We want to make the process “hassle-free” and remove the excuse of families who are perhaps on the fence about coming to OneLife on a Sunday,” explains Taylor. “We feel that an investment in this technology will help this and will be an additional way we communicate to families our commitment to the safety and priority of their children in our church’s mission.”

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