As we start to wrap up a challenging year, making any significant changes or improvements may be a bit too much to ask. However, there are several ways to make incremental improvements that lead to lasting impacts.

We all want to see significant results from ministry efforts. We want to see more people coming to Christ, increased attendance at worship services (online and/or in-person), more volunteers serving consistently, etc. Those are worthwhile goals that would be wonderful to see happen. However, getting to that fruit typically doesn’t happen overnight. So, what can you do now to see that fruit later?

Here are three key areas to invest in to reap benefits over time:

No. 1: Volunteers

Your church likely needs more volunteers than you have now. This means the current team is carrying a heavier load than you’d prefer. However, if you take care of your current volunteers, they’ll be your best recruiters and will invite others to join them.

Here are several ways to invest in your current volunteers:

  • Say “thank you.” Be specific about what they’re doing that you appreciate and how their effort supports the church’s ministry.
  • Share testimonies of how a volunteer impacted a guest or served in an extraordinary way.
  • Mail out hand-written thank you notes when someone goes the extra mile.
  • Pray with your volunteer teams each week.
  • Have fun and laugh with your volunteers. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Provide them with the information they need to succeed in their volunteer roles. It’s nearly impossible to overcommunicate.

You don’t have to do anything huge or expensive; they’ll feel valued by these little gestures.

No. 2: Staff Members

Do you wish your staff was more productive or would take more ownership over their areas? There are practical ways you can help them get there.

  • Let them know what you expect. If they don’t know, they’re just guessing, and that doesn’t help anyone win.
  • Provide mentorship. Does your team struggle with communication? Find a good book and have them read a couple of chapters each week to discuss during staff meetings.
  • Provide training. Do you have an individual who needs to grow their skills in a specific area? Find a training course. There are many low to no-cost courses online that could really help even if you’re on a tight budget.

Don’t just hope for an overnight change in your team. Take a few steps to help them develop and become more effective.

No. 3: Details

The longer you’ve been at your church, the more difficult it is to see it through the eyes of a first-time guest. Consider asking a friend who doesn’t attend your church to walk the campus with you. Ask what your friend observes.

Does he see large cracks in the sidewalk? Does the inside smell musty when he walks in? Are there scuff marks on the walls? Even if you can’t find someone willing to do a walkthrough with you, try doing this on your own. If you go slowly with the intent to look at each detail, you’ll end up with a page of notes to discuss with your team.

Another way to see your church differently is by attending another service. In-person attendance might be a challenge due to the pandemic, so you might watch another church’s online service instead. See how other churches handle the online service, how they engage with their online audience, and more.

Ask yourself several questions as you think about the experience (online or in-person):

  • What are they doing differently?
  • What does their campus and rooms for various groups look like?
  • How do they greet people?
  • What do they do for first-time guests?
  • Are volunteers at childcare check-in friendly and helpful?
  • Does the worship team seem passionate about honoring God in worship?

What did you like, not like? What do you want to take back to your church and adjust? We can always learn from each other, so don't hesitate to call up one of their staff members and ask how something works behind the scenes. Let’s build each other up to serve God and our communities.

Incremental improvement steps aren’t very exciting at first. It takes consistent effort over time to produce the results we’d prefer to see happen instantaneously. However, it’s often these smaller steps that produce lasting change and fruit.