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One of the big leadership challenges that Church on the Move deals with each year is splitting their volunteer base between an event called the Christmas Train and their Christmas services.

The Christmas Train is an event they hold at their campground outside of town that?s evangelistic in nature. It?s literally a train that goes around the property and shows the story of Jesus re-enacted live. It?s actually been a big way to reach their community and get people connected to Christmas. (Though this year they?ve stopped doing the Christmas Train so they can focus their efforts better on their Christmas services.)

The Christmas train is a big bear and it requires a lot of volunteers to make it happen. Then mix that with their typical weekend services and special Christmas services, and their volunteer base becomes?pretty taxed during the Christmas season.

2014 was a bit easier than previous years because all of their Christmas services were on the same day?Christmas Eve. So they were able to cover most of the services by getting groups to serve together in chunks of two services in a row.

But another thing that helps ease the burden of this is that they usually look for new volunteers to serve at the Christmas Train. Since it?s a one-time commitment, they can get folks who might not otherwise serve. And actually, they?ve been able to historically convert about 25% of their Christmas train volunteers to weekend volunteers. They attribute this to good training and mixing first-timers with seasoned volunteers so they can feel like they know what?s going on. So while it?s been a big source of stress during the Christmas season, it?s actually worked out to be beneficial in some ways. (Not beneficial enough for them to keep it up, though.)

Another benefit they had last year over previous years was that the Christmas services weren?t their usual community push. They normally deal with 1500-1800 people having to be in overflow because they can?t contain them in their services. This creates loads of stress for volunteers and logistics because they have to figure out how to seat them all and take care of them. But last year, since it was lower-key, the services didn?t overflow, making it considerably easier on their volunteer team.

Even though it was considerably easier on the volunteers than previous years, they still did things to make it special for the volunteers. They ramped up their own volunteer hospitality by recruiting one team of volunteers completely devoted to serving the others. They provided the usual food and coffee, but also Red Bulls and other energy drinks to their team to encourage them to be peppy.

Here?s the take home for you and your church this Christmas season: Look for ways to make things special for your volunteers this year. Yes, you’re putting in more effort, but that’s your job. These folks are giving up family time to serve. Also, what areas can you cut out of your process to ease the volunteer burden? Do you have a Christmas Train you need to stop doing?

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