Stopping Volunteer Burnout in Ladies Ministry
By Ali Lummber
You and your volunteers know ladies learn best when they’re actively involved in a learning experience. So why do ladies leaders sometimes resort to lectures when they know they could do better?
I’m betting those passive, traditional methods are less draining to them. It’s easier to hand out an outline or a worksheet than to lead an involving group activity. Active-learning leaders need more than slick lessons, they need renewal. Here’s how you can help.
1. Offer training sessions for your leaders.
Once your ladies volunteers have bought into an active-learning philosophy, they need to know how teaching aids can help them. Practice activities together so they can see how they work in advance. Give them several “rainy day” (no preparation required) lessons. Plan an “Idea Swap and Share” night with other local ladies leaders, and invite your ministry volunteers.
2. Establish a point person for resources.
It’s tiring to gather supplies for active-learning experiences. And often volunteers end up spending their own money to buy them. Reduce their stress by recruiting someone to order, gather, and buy all ladies training supplies using money from your ladies program budget. Stress buying in bulk and reusing supplies.
In addition, appoint a resource person or committee to do curriculum research. This person or group should visit Christian bookstores on a regular basis to evaluate and recommend resources.
3. Regularly honor your ladies volunteers for their efforts.
Encourage church ladies to communicate their appreciation by passing out thank you note cards during the worship service and by planning an annual Ladies Ministry Volunteer Appreciation Night at your church. By letting them know how important they are, leaders will get the pat on the back they deserve, but rarely get.
4. Make sure your church leaders publicly support and value Ladies Ministry.
In general, how do average church members see your ladies program-as a vital part of the church’s ministry or just a social club? Your volunteers will feel energized by the former and discouraged by the latter. Every year, declare a “Ladies Ministry Month” emphasis. During the month, perform skits during the worship service that emphasize the importance of your ladies group. Hand out stickers or pins that read “Proud to be Involved In Ladies Ministry.” Ask husbands to tell about the positive impact your ladies program has had on their ladies.
5. Plan informal get-togethers for leaders to enjoy each other.
Encourage fun, laughter, and casual conversation-no brainstorming and problem-solving allowed!
6. At least once a year, show ladies volunteers an inspirational video or three.
I’ve used videos such as the Ladies Ministry Day at General Conference, LA Ladies Conference speakers, and other ladies speakers. Your goal is to reinforce the beauty and power of excellent teaching and instruction.
7. Make sure your volunteers get regular breaks.
Does your church have regular weekly fund raising? Weekly church cleaning? If so, it’s stressful when you know you have to show up every week regardless of what’s happening in your life. Offer them several weeks off per year. Schedule these times in advance so your ladies leaders and workers know that there will be a break coming.
8. Pray, pray, pray.
Sure, it’s a cliche. But Jesus does carry our burdens and give us peace. Ask the people who benefit from your volunteers the most-your church ladies-to pray for them.
This article “Stopping Volunteer Burnout in Ladies Ministry” by Ali Lubber is excerpted from Ladies Ministry Magazine, 2004 Sheman Publishing, Inc.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”