Have you ever noticed that churches have a tendency to go through volunteers quickly? Me too.

Finding good volunteers is hard. It’s no surprise then, that when leaders find good volunteers who are invested in the mission and vision of the local church we tend to call on the same ones.

Over. And over. And over again.

I know I’m guilty.

The problem is, as leaders we need good volunteers who are invested in the mission and vision of the local church. Without them, the program often fails. And I think that is exactly why we tend to go through volunteer leaders quickly. They’re valued for what they can do, and not for who they are.

So, the one thing I wish all my volunteers knew? We can’t do it without them, but that’s not what gives them value. They’re value is found in who they are, and more importantly, who God is calling them to become. Their heart matters.

Here are three ways you can lead volunteers well, focusing more on their heart than their head.

1. Lead Your Volunteers

Your volunteers are invested. At very least they’re showing up and that requires some level of commitment. Volunteers want to be led. At least that is why I’ve joined teams in the past. They’re looking for vision, and direction. They want to be a part of something that matters.

So lead your volunteers.

Talk about vision, talk about mission. Discuss methods; how you want to accomplish your goals and how you’ll know you’ve accomplished your goals.

Talk about expectations; both theirs and yours. Make sure they know what is expected of them each time they show up. And, make sure they know what they can expect of you as their leader. Don’t make them guess, make them feel confident. And, don’t just talk about these things once, repeat them throughout the seasons of ministry.

Your volunteers are committed to you, you need to commit to leading your volunteers.

2. Grow Your Volunteers

This one is the longest and greatest investment; the commitment to growing your volunteers. It requires the most of you as a leader.

Don’t just commit to making sure your volunteers know more. Make sure they are becoming the person God created them to be.

Their hearts matter.

Make sure they are growing in their relationship with Jesus, maintaining their passion, finding rejuvenating rest, and balancing their volunteer work and energy with all the other areas of life to which they are already committed.

You can’t do that outside of a relationship. So commit to growing your volunteers into better leaders.

As your ministry grows, you won’t be able to do this for everyone. Make sure you are preparing someone to take your place for when that happens so that there is not gap.

3. Encourage Your Volunteers

At the end of the day I’m convinced that people volunteer and join ministries because they believe in the mission and vision of that ministry. Really, they believe in the leader. My hope is that you, as a leader, believe in your volunteers.

People need to know that what they are doing matters. And sure, there may be moments you need to realign volunteers with the mission and vision but that won’t work unless they know you care about them.

So encourage your volunteers. Let them know when they’re doing and good job and again, don’t just say it once. Give them positive feedback that is genuine and honest, but always encouraging.


What about you? How do you grow your volunteer leaders and avoid volunteer burnout?