Volunteer weekend prograMMe

This past weekend we hosted our first “Volunteer Weekend” – a weekend to focus on appreciating, inspiring and equipping our volunteers for the year ahead. Since a lot of work when into the weekend, I thought I’d put it out here in case any other church leaders stumble upon it and want some ideas. So, here’s a summary of the programme

Friday Night

The outcome of Friday night was for volunteers to be appreciated, and have a relaxed, fun evening. Here’s how the evening unfolded. Note: The staff served the volunteers on the weekend – no volunteers were hurt in the making of this weekend


Staff spent time setting up decor outside that lead the volunteers through Checkins, a photobooth, a mocktail station and into the coffee venue. Catering was also being prepared in the kitchen for the meal, and the hall set up with tables, chairs, table clothes and table decor


18:30 – Volunteers arrived and went through the checkin process. While guests mingled, we played a “Guess my identity game” (Volunteers had stickers put on their backs and needed to find out who they were by only asking yes/no questions.

19:00 – Guests moved into the hall and got settled

19:10 – Our Senior pastor welcomed the guests and explained the goal for the weekend. We then had one of our staff lead our pastor and another staff member in a blind folded “burger making challenge”, which introduced the “Build a burger” concept for the evening

19:20 – While guests make burgers and ate at their tables, a slideshow of photos from 2019 played on the screen

19:45 – We got some of our volunteers (pre-arranged) onto stage for a panel interview. Before they shared their win from 2019 though, they played a quick round of Minute-2-win-it. After they round, we sat and I asked each volunteer to share a highlight from their area of ministry in 2019.

20:10 – The staff surprised everyone with a little song and dance… we borrowed an appreciation song from another church and sang lyrics to the tune of Gangnam Style. It was a hit!

20:30 – I played a video parody of “Top Church” (not available publically, I’m afraid) which is a take on if Gordon Ramsay had to find the perfect church. After the video, a slide saying “There are no perfect churches, but you help us be all we can be” went up. We thanked the volunteers and dismissed them for the evening. Short and sweet!

21:30 – After packing away and setting up for Saturday morning, the staff went home.

Saturday Morning

08:00 – Worship Sound Check and Checkins Setup

08:30 – Guests arrived, checked in, had some coffee and tea

09:00 – The programme started with some acoustic worship, followed by a summary of the vision for 2020 from our Senior Pastor, and a tutorial on using our Planning Center and Church Center apps (using apple TV from my phone, so that everyone could see what I was doing while I was doing it). We also gave PCO manuals to volunteers

10:20 – Break 1. While guests went out for a coffee break with rusks, some staff stayed behind to rearrange chairs into a circle with our fake grand piano (a grand piano shell we build with our electric piano inside) in the middle. Couches were put on the stage and a sweet snack placed on every chair.

10:45 – Guests came back in and we played a KAHOOT (volunteer themed, designed by our one of pastors). After that we got a couple onto the stage who had a profound experience the first time they visited Eastside. I interviewed them about their journey as a family now serving at Eastside.

11:00 – This lead beautifully into a video monologue from Salt University called “I am not invisible” – it was about 15min long and phenomenally done. Out of this video, we had a time of ministry where I sat at the piano and played while people prayed, then came up to the piano and make a commitment by writing a short note to God on the piano. I must confess, ahead of time I wasn’t sure how this would work – but it ended up being one of the higlights of the weekend.

11:45 – People moved into breakaways in their respective ministries where each ministry leader prepared about a 45 minute time to equip their volunteers for the year ahead. Every breakaway looked different, but each breakaway reinforced some of our values as a church

12:30 – Everyone gathered again in the hall for a time of communion, again around the table. After a prayer of commissioning, we handed out prizes to some people (Kahoot winner, game winner, social media posts etc), had a group photo and dismissed everyone.

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