Assess Your Volunteers with These 5 To-the-Point Questions

Ron Edmondson wrote in 2011 about 3 Places to Find New Church Leaders. He makes the case that churches should be looking inside and outside for leaders. Inside, look for people that are “doing” who could be leading. And find people serving in one area that should serve in another. Outside, find leaders in the community.

Most young churches today trend toward hiring from within. They would rather find someone already serving and promote them. Rich Birch makes a great case for hiring from the outside. He wrote about it recently in 6 Reasons the Next Hire at Your Church Should Be External. Still, every church must figure out how to raise up leaders from among their many doers. If they don’t, hiring will outpace budget limitations.

Promoting volunteers requires discernment.

How do team leaders discern who is ready to take on more responsibility? The hardest thing about identifying new leaders is discernment. Some leaders may not feel confident in making those judgement calls. You have to find a way to make informed decisions about your volunteers. Guessing is not a strategy.

That’s why I’m a big advocate for regular reviews and assessments of every volunteer on your team. Volunteers may show up only an hour a week, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth investing in. In fact, the people you lead are exactly the people you should be investing in. It doesn’t matter how small their time contribution is.

The benefits of regular assessments work in your favor, too. Of course, it will help you identify future leaders. You’ll also know who on your team is healthy and unhealthy. And you will have a finger on the pulse of your team’s buy-in.

What should you ask in the assessment?

There are tons of examples out there to use as a starting point. Most were designed for performance evaluations or personality assessments. Bible-based assessments usually focus on spiritual gifts or calling. These can be helpful additions to my suggestions below.

The kind of regular assessments your team needs are different than what you’ll find on Google. You should assess the buy-in, effectiveness, spiritual condition, and passion of your volunteers.

Here are 5 questions you should ask your volunteers during an assessment.

  1. Why are you volunteering?
  2. What are your challenges?
  3. How is your walk with God? Is it consistent or sporadic?
  4. Is volunteering getting in the way of your community with God and your fellowship with others? Are you able to attend worship and take part in a small group on a regular basis?
  5. What one thing would you improve on your volunteer team?

These questions help me understand the health of my volunteers on many fronts. They also open up new conversations where ministry and mentoring can happen.

How often should you run an assessment?

The frequency of your assessments might vary based on your needs. In my experience, twice per year is an excellent rhythm for assessments like this. It’s not too often that the assessment itself is burdensome. It’s not too seldom that you lose visibility into the health of your team.

This type of assessment is also helpful for new volunteers. I like to give my volunteers this assessment after they’ve been active in their role for about one month. It’s a great time to make sure they’re in the right role. It also helps them have the correct understanding of the part they play in the grand scheme of things.

What’s the best assessment tool?

Execute this assessment in the most convenient way possible for your volunteers to complete. For some, that might be a written assessment. If that’s you, download this simple Word document. It’s ready to print and pass out to your volunteers.

But you should also consider your own time in processing their responses. I prefer to keep all responses for every assessment in one place. That lets me look at each volunteer’s responses over time. I use that access to compare each assessment with each previous assessment.

That’s one of the reasons TrainedUp includes a simple assessment tool. Each volunteer has a login for your TrainedUp account. Creating an assessment only takes a couple minutes and when each volunteer completes an assessment, TrainedUp saves their responses right to their profile. That means you’ll always have access to their responses.

There’s no such thing as a perfect assessment.

If you wait until you have just the right questions and just the right time, you’ll never run an assessment on your volunteers. Don’t stall on this. There’s no better time to run an assessment than right now.

Take the time to assess your volunteers and you’ll find the cream rise to the top. You might even find that you identify a volunteer that’s on the brink of burnout. Both are invaluable discoveries for the health of your team and your effectiveness as a leader.