Volunteers are on the front lines on Sunday mornings and at church events. They're the ones helping first-time guests check in their kids. They hear comments about the parking lot, sound in the sanctuary, the church website and more.

In other words, they see and hear what you might not. If you're not regularly asking for their input, you might miss out on valuable information that could help you be more effective.

So, how do you tap into this resource and learn from your volunteers? Here three simple methods:

1. Conduct an online volunteer survey

Use a tool such as SurveyMonkey.com to create a brief survey. Send it to all your current volunteers to solicit their input.

Keep the survey short (10-20 questions at the most), and email the link to volunteers explaining why you're asking for their input. Give them a deadline to fill out the survey, then review the results.

2. Meet with volunteer leaders

Go out to lunch with a volunteer couple who leads other volunteers and get their feedback. Get to know them a bit better, share your heart for ministry and ask a few questions to invite their input.

Here are a few examples of what you could ask:

  • What am I doing that you wish I'd stop or change?
  • What am I not doing that you'd like me to start?
  • If I could provide you with any resource, training or information to make your volunteer role easier, what would it be?

3. Meet with small groups of volunteers

Host a training refresher, quarterly volunteer meeting or some gathering during which you ask for feedback. Do a question-and-answer session as well. Between the suggestions they offer and the questions they ask, you should get a good idea of any communication gaps or areas to improve.

Once you receive feedback from volunteers, it's extremely important to do something with that feedback ASAP. You probably won't implement every suggestion, but make sure you publicize the ones you do put into practice.

In an email to volunteers or at the next meeting, mention that you make change ABC after hearing their feedback and thank them for the suggestion. Whenever possible, give credit to the individual who made the suggestion.

When you implement their ideas, you're communicating that you value their input and will do something with it. That will make getting feedback in the future much easier. It will also cultivate a stronger relationship of trust with volunteers.

Tap into the information and experience of your volunteers by seeking out their input. They'll appreciate that you respect their insights, and you'll gain valuable information to make ministry even stronger.