The Volunteer Myth: If You Need Them, They Will Come

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

Your nursery workers look…irritated. They had a passion for ministering to young parents by providing a safe and nurturing environment for their little ones, but that fire is gone. They’ve been doing this too long. They only rotate off one Sunday a month. They’re sick of kids. They seem sick of church. The burnout is outpacing the new sign-ups.

Or this:Field of Dreams_Pat_CC on Flickr

The care ministry team can’t get off the ground. You want to empower your church members to do ministry themselves, to pray for and encourage people in need each week. But the plea for volunteers during a Sunday morning service hasn’t yielded names on the clipboard in the lobby. You feel a little stuck.

While far from exhaustive, these two examples hit on a few of the top problems churches have when trying to build a volunteer force.

How do you move the needle in this arena? Start by evaluating your church on these three points.

1) Are you creatively and consistently sharing how volunteer roles help the church accomplish its vision?

People want to be a part of something big! They want to know their time and energy and commitment is advancing the Kingdom. It’s your job to show them that it is. What creative method have you used lately in your quest for new volunteers?

2) Are you making it simple to find volunteer opportunities and sign up?

We recommend having a go-to place, be it on your website or at a prominent spot where people congregate in your building (or both!), that is always up-to-date on volunteer opportunities. This should include current needs and ongoing opportunities, along with a breakdown of roles, responsibilities, time commitment and ministry leader contacts.

If this spot has a person staffing a table, that person needs to be a passionate ambassador for the church’s mission, vision and values and able to easily communicate to potential volunteers how each opportunity to serve connects to the church’s purpose.

If a website, make the vision front and center, and consider including videos from volunteers in different ministries that provide potential volunteers with an idea of what it’s like to serve in that area.

Make signing up easy and guarantee every inquiry into a volunteer role will receive a prompt response.

3) Are you consistently saying “thank you” and honoring your volunteers?

The Church is the Body of Christ, and it takes all of us with all of our gifts, time and passion to spread His message. Do your volunteers understand you appreciate their decision to serve alongside you? Communication of thanks to volunteers should be frequent and thoughtful – not just a “thank you” email every month. Think outside the box.

Photo Credit: Pat via Flickr cc

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By |2017-02-09T13:52:51+00:00November 18th, 2013|Leadership|5 Comments

About the Author:

Tiffany is Director of Marketing & Communications at The Unstuck Group. She graduated from Clemson University, and before joining The Unstuck Team, worked in public relations with major national retail brands, nonprofits and churches on content creation, strategic planning, communication consulting, social media and media relations. She also founded and writes for, a devotional blog for young women.


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  2. Stewart November 19, 2013 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    The works of our flesh “burns out:” All labors we do for ourselves, the Church and others wears us down, but the life in the Spirit powers us for a lifetime: when we are rightly related to Christ we never weary of serving him, regardless of place or circumstances. We must get our relationship right first and make sure we are abiding, then all the resources of heaven are made available for the work the Master calls us to.
    1) Are you creatively and consistently sharing how volunteer roles help the church accomplish its vision? The need and importance of service is the direct and wondrous enlightenment that comes from being rightly related to Christ, so it is not a hard sell.
    2) Are you making it simple to find volunteer opportunities and sign up? The passion to serve that comes from a right relationship overcomes all obstacles.
    3) Are you consistently saying “thank you” and honoring your volunteers? Praise flows naturally from a spiritual state that loves those who serve, but never demands it for itself.

    • mm
      Tiffany Deluccia November 22, 2013 at 3:49 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your comment. We appreciate your thoughts!

  3. RICHARD MOKUA OBARA December 17, 2013 at 5:06 am - Reply

    Dear Christ’s service greetings to all,
    I am Pastor Richard Mokua from Africa Kenya kindly allow me join you with my team. Because am encouraged and interested with what you are doing, thank you.Hope to hear from you.

    Pastor Richard

    • mm
      Tiffany Deluccia December 17, 2013 at 5:59 pm - Reply

      Pastor Richard – We truly appreciate your interest! At this time, we’re not equipped to serve churches beyond our geography. But I hope the posts on our blog continue to encourage you and provide inspiration. – Tiffany

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