3 Reasons Church Leaders Don’t Start Great Volunteer Teams

Team of Young Volunteers

Church Leaders and Volunteer Teams

Great church leaders don’t always lead great volunteer teams. In fact, some hardly oversee any volunteer teams at all. These leaders may lead a team of temporary paid workers, or work nonstop making sure nothing falls through the cracks. 

I believe there are three main reasons church leaders don’t start and sustain great volunteer teams. Understanding these reasons can help unlock an army of volunteer talent your church may be missing. 

3 Reasons Church Leaders Don’t Start Great Volunteer Teams

1. They don’t know how

Has anyone ever taught you how to recruit, train, and retain great church volunteers? It’s important to understand that leading volunteers is a distinct thing that you can learn to do. However, it’s a common mistake to assume that you should know how to do it. For example, because a person may know how to maintain control over a board room- do you think they should know how to teach a group of 30 kindergarteners? Understanding how to do something in one context does not mean that knowledge is able to apply to every context. 

You may tell people that working with volunteers is messy, hard, and not worth your time. However, it’s also possible that your real issue is you’ve never learned how to do it.

The Truth: You can learn how to lead volunteers. Instead of assuming that volunteer development is not worth your effort, it might be worth acknowledging what you know and don’t know about leading great volunteer teams.  

2. Their Talent

Another common reason church leaders don’t start great volunteer teams is their own talent. If you’ve worked for a church for any number of years I can probably guess that you’re busy, stressed, and probably feel overworked. But you’re probably pretty good at what you do and keep a lot of plates spinning. 

For you, the thought of incorporating volunteers means you’ll have to slow down and figure out how to find extra time to manage volunteers. You’re also afraid that incorporating volunteers will mean lessening the quality of the product you produce or oversee each week. This fear keeps you from developing volunteers. 

The Truth: There’s a good chance your church is filled with talented people. You may have some lawyers, teachers, entrepreneurs, doctors, business owners, coaches, and who knows what else. Paul spoke how the church is like a body and EACH ONE has a role to play. If we are trying to do everything ourselves we’re running ourselves ragged while robbing church members from the honor of using their God-given gifts to impact the kingdom of God.

volunteer team vision

3. Lack of Vision for Volunteers

Even if a church leader wanted to develop a volunteer team and desired to learn how, there’s still one piece missing- they don’t have a vision for what they’re trying to create. To many leaders, the idea of asking a bunch of people to do random tasks (that they may not even want to do) seems like a lot of extra work with questionable payoffs.

The Truth: I’d suggest you set a goal to work yourself out of a job. Instead of being the best at what you do, try to find the best volunteers who can collectively do what you do. The body of Christ is meant to be a whole body, where everyone plays a part. Therefore, as a church leader, our number one job is to identify and release people’s place in God’s kingdom. Start by writing down everything you do and consider how you can work toward finding volunteers to use their gifts in that role. Don’t stop until you have a trained volunteer leader and volunteer team positioned in every role you oversee.  

Creating Great Church Volunteer Teams

You may still wonder if the time and energy you’ll need to put into developing a volunteer team is worth it. It’s true that working with people can  sometimes be messy and slow down your process. However, there are a few points you should remember. First, the church can only reach its full potential when everyone (and that means everyone) is using their gifts to serve as the body of Christ. I believe bringing this vision to reality is a part our mandate as followers of Jesus.

Second, there may be people who are more talented at pieces of your job than you. It can also help to remember the old saying, many hands make light work. As you hand off tasks and responsibilities to talented church members, you will suddenly be freed up to dream about what God may be calling the church next.

It may even take you a few years to develop great volunteer teams, but your effort will be well-worth the time you invest.