10 Things Every Church Staff Needs To Know About Volunteers

What are the volunteers that serve in your church or non-profit organization thinking?  What are their hopes, dreams, and needs?  During the last 24 years, I have had to privilege of serving on two church staffs but have spent the vast majority of that time as a volunteer. 

To assist church leaders in better connecting with those who have made the strategic choice to leverage their excess time and talent to serve others, the following are key items that volunteers wished their staff knew about them.

  1. We desperately want to make a difference with our one and only life.  Everyone wants to live a life of significance.  We have determined the best place to do that is in our local church.
  2. Our time is valuable so be organized and tell us what to do.  We live very busy lives.  When we show up to serve, please have us something important for us to do and be well-organized.
  3. We want to serve in context of community.  People begin serving at a church for two reasons.  First, to do something significant.  Second, we are looking for friends.  Always build a time of community into every volunteer effort.
  4. Our opinion matters.  We make important organizational decisions every day.  In addition, we are at Ground Zero in regard to what is happening at the church.  Seek out and value our thoughts and insights.  Don’t marginalize us.
  5. We want influence, not position.  It is a common misconception that if you give someone a title, that will please them.  It may not be a bad thing but it could be missing the mark.
  6. We want our efforts to be tied to and help make the church’s vision a reality.  Volunteers want to know what they are doing makes a difference in the overall scheme of things and is not just a busy task.
  7. We want to grow spiritually.  Our core desire to have our hearts connected with the heart of God.
  8. All we want is for someone to say “Thank you. You made a difference today.”  Everyone wants to be told they are pretty.  A simple expression of genuine thanks deepens the relationship with the church and inspires our continued efforts.
  9. We want you to ask us to serve.  The #1 reason a person joins a cause or team is because someone asks them.  There are dozens, maybe hundreds at your church who would love to serve if someone would just ask them.
  10. We want the freedom to take a break when we need one.  This is critical.  There are seasons in your life when you are just tired or have little margin.  There must be a freedom to take a break for a season.  If not, when the person quits the ministry, they also quit your church because they feel they are out of options.

Church leaders, I know you appreciate and love your volunteers.  We all know you could not get by without them.  I trust this post will help you better connect with them and serve them in the way that you wish to.

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About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.

5 Responses to “10 Things Every Church Staff Needs To Know About Volunteers”

  1. I’m a #10 casualty that got trapped too long in never ending ministries. Yes, they let me know I was a blessing and appreciated what I did. That was nice and all but I was burning out and needed a break. I couldn’t get a break because there was no one who could do or was willing to take over my things.

    When I finally found a job here in Illinois and moved from Michigan, I decided not to go back to church for now and just stay completely away. What a load off my back. I’m so much more happier and at ease now.

    Being more type B personality, I haven’t missed church or miss people. I was never one who could get that close to others anyway except for best friends.

  2. CoachNicole I would add “know their spiritual gifts!” RT @briankdodd: 10 Things Every Church Staff Needs To Know About Volunteers: http://wp.me/pVReH-Fw

  3. This is a wonderful list! I would also add that knowing a person’s spiritual gifts, passions, and abilities helps with matching them to volunteer opportunities. When people are well-suited to their tasks (and their tasks are well-suited to them), they serve with more joy and energy, and a higher level of commitment.


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