What Pastors Need to Know About Volunteers

I used to tell people all the time that our church was driven by God but fueled by volunteers.  Here’s a few things I learned about working with volunteers:

1. People don’t volunteer because they are bored. They are busy people with jobs, families and hobbies.  They don’t have lots of time for meetings, read all the emails you send, or think about church every day like you do.

2. They need clear directions. I’m a huge proponent of a written job description for every volunteer.  It doesn’t have to be long, but let people know how much time a volunteer position takes, and who to call if they have an issue.  Get on the same page on the front end, and you’ll have less confusion on the back end.  For what it’s worth, volunteer job descriptions are included in Docs and Forms.

3. They want to meet your expectations.  Most volunteers are not bad people with bad motives. They really do want to please you.

4. They want to feel good about what they do. Checking boxes and completing tasks aren’t inspiring. They want to be a part of something that leads to results, not plug away without seeing success.

5. Their only reward shouldn’t be in heaven. Appreciating people isn’t expensive.  Recognition and information are two great ways to appreciate people.

6. They need a break. No volunteer should be asked to commit to a position for life. This is especially true for children’s ministry workers. Give the setup team a morning off.

7. Someone needs to care for their soul. You are a shepherd, not just a leader. Personally. Family. Spiritually. Does someone know their kids?

8. You gotta ask people to serve. General requests from the stage get general responses from the audience. Ask people personally. Create specific opportunities for people to serve.  The more specific the position, the more likely you are to find someone.  “We need a 2nd grade small group leader at 9:00” will get a better response than “we need kids workers.”

9. It’s easy to use people. If you keep asking the same people for stuff, they will feel abused.  People in your church are not a mechanism to help you accomplish your vision. People have goals…help them reach them.

10. They need development. All volunteers are not leaders. Some people are doers; some people are leaders. Teach people skills that they can use in life, not just in church.

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