Why volunteers don’t attend your meetings.

Have you ever asked yourself why no one ever comes to your training meetings? Have you ever bought 200 bagels and 5 boxes of Joe in preparation for 100% attendance by your volunteer teams? Only to have 185 bagels left over. I see that hand and that hand belongs to me.

What do we do? We blame the people we invited we blame the methods we used to get the people out, and even sometimes the donuts, but rarely do we look at the content of the meeting itself.

In my experience most meetings for volunteers are held because of the accumulation of important information that needs to be shared. So you call everyone out to the church, on a Saturday for a three hour meeting on diaper changing policy.

The first big mistake we make is we think people care as much about information as we do. They don’t.

If you want people to attend your meetings. Here is what you need to do.

1. Start on time end on time – value their time.
2. 30% Fellowship/Relationship
3. 60% Inspiration/Vision/Values
4. 10% Information – Give people information other ways – email, facebook, blogs.
5. Connect meetings to things they are already attending
6. Most leaders want to grow make your meeting about leadership growth not trivial facts.

If they know they are going to be poured into and challenged they will come back. Do them and your ministry a favor. Talk vision and values way more than you talk about putting stickers on freshly changed baby bums.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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14 thoughts on “Why volunteers don’t attend your meetings.

  1. I agree that vision needs to be constantly set before the team. It is so easy to become so fixed on a point or need, that we can so often lose perspective on why we do what we're doing.

    We start every meeting with worship (Eliminate awkwardness and ask someone to lead who carries an anointing for worship). This is a big focus in our church, so our guys are used to this, but it always opens up hearts and sets an atmosphere of expectation. At the end of the day, my heart is that my leaders are hearing from God themselves.

    Another important point you raised is connecting meetings into things they're already attending. At Planetshakers, every meeting is booked with the entire church in mind. Our PlanetKids calendar is in sync with every other leadership/ small group meeting during the year. This flows really well and gives all our leaders the opportunity to attend without missing anything else.

    We always try to interact and joke around too. We can't take ourselves too seriously. It's a great way to hook people in and get them relaxed. You never know what your leaders have just been through leading up to your meeting, so breaking the ice is another way to open people up.

    I think our guys are well overdue for some doughnuts! Thanks for the sharing!

    • Paul thanks for your comment. love your insight. Thanks for taking the time to add to the discussion. Love how you have fun with your team so important.

  2. Interesting, but wish it was as easy as that.

    When I became the new Children's Pastor at a church I was dismayed to discover that every month there was a tedious meeting of the kids workers where it was decided exactly what the crafts were going to be, who was going to bring the felt-tips (followed by a discussion – every time – about how the children didn't replace the lids), who was going to read the story, what biscuits we should have etc etc

    Using all the skills & techniques recommended in various leadership articles, I gradually introduced a new format along the lines you suggest. Guess what … they weren't interested! They just wanted to know what to do. They weren't interested in the "Big Picture" stuff. And this seems to be typical in lots of places – usually ('sexual stereotype alert!!) with the women wanting just to "get on with things" and the men wanting to thrash out the vision, problem solve etc.

    I suggest 2 meetings!

    • Peter I hear what you are saying. I do think that we all tend to go to the lowest level. The "what do I have to do". That gets stuff done. But until you can move to why you do what you do with your team you are going to be stuck and the kids will pay the price. 2 meetings may be a short term fix so you can build a new team and get rid of the other team. Sounds harsh but our kids deserve whats best. Leadership isn't an easy thing. I find how you present the Big Picture stuff makes all the difference. Everyone wants to be known and everyone whats to be inspired. If they want neither in my opinion they should not be part of the team.

  3. Thanks Sam! I don't like meetings myself and discussing with our leadership team on ways to reformat our meeting times with the teams, so that even I want to be there:-) Thanks for points 1-6 and especially #4!

  4. Thanks for the post. We face so many problems these days. I think most people with the little time they have left after trying to make it through the week have themselves over committed and often times any church related activity just gets the leftovers. Casting vision is huge here, we have to communicate we are changing people for eternity here. Most of our people do not live in our world and we have to inspire them to look beyond the daily grind and see the Big Picture. When most people think meeting they envision your picture. I like your breakdown of a meeting. Imagine going to a meeting that is actually inspirational and fun. Now there's a novel idea!!!

  5. I agree here. The information part is so important. Leaders want to know the why…

    I would imagine that Peter's comment might have to do with the "new guy" treatment. It might take some hard conversations to figure out why they don't care about the why…

    Number 4 Sam, to me is the most important on that list. Even asking the question before every piece of communication that you have: What media stream (letter, email, handout, slide, meeting) would best communicate the feeling that I want people to have about this message is a big first step.

    Great post!

  6. Sam , I couldn't agree with you on this , thank you for sharing this I will use this in my ministry with my church .