A healthy church relies heavily on volunteer support. Creating a church culture where volunteers feel valued and supported is vital for a strong church body. One of the best ways to accomplish this is for pastors and church administrators to place an emphasis on leading volunteers well. Those involved with leading the volunteer ministry need to ensure they provide continual support, encouragement, and guidance. 

What Is a Volunteer Ministry? 

Volunteer ministry is an essential component to almost all other ministries within the church. Sunday school won’t happen without volunteer teachers. The children and student ministries wouldn’t exist without countless volunteers dedicating their time to teaching and leading events. Adoption ministries or celebrate recovery programs cannot work without a volunteer that is passionate about the work being done there. Often, even administrative roles within the church, are completed by a team of volunteers. These roles are all important in keeping the church healthy and strong. When you combine all of the work being done through these roles, you have a volunteer ministry. For these roles to function properly, a dedicated individual needs to lead these volunteers in a direction that aligns with the church’s mission and goals. 

Most congregations have a body of believers that love the church and are eager to support its needs. People often look for areas that they are passionate about in which to serve. You can encourage this by leading volunteer workshops periodically throughout the year. Use these events to highlight ministries that have an unmet need. Show members how they can use their skills, gifts, and passions to contribute to various areas of the church. Celebrate the current volunteers as a way to keep engagement levels up and burnout or volunteer turnover low. Often, people want to help but are unsure of the options available to them. These workshops are a great way to get the message out about volunteer opportunities. 

Obstacles to Overcome Within a Volunteer Ministry 

Leading volunteers is not an easy job and needs a hands-on approach. Since these are not paid positions, people often see aspects of their role as optional or set apart from critique/evaluation. Also, it can be hard to coordinate volunteers due to scheduling conflicts, preference of ministry, etc. If the volunteers’ physical and spiritual needs are not made a priority, burnout often occurs. High volunteer turnover can be stressful and hard to manage. Take a deeper look at obstacles surrounding volunteer ministry here

Leading Volunteers Well: 5 Tips for a Strong Volunteer Ministry

1. Encourage Your Volunteers 

When leading volunteers, one of the best things you can do is encourage them often. Provide spiritual encouragement through scripture and prayer. Remind members of the importance their role plays in the overall success of the church. 

2. Serve Your Volunteers 

Since volunteers often spend a great deal of time serving the church, it is important to set aside dedicated time to serve them. If they miss out on traditional morning Bible classes because of their role, offer Sunday or Wednesday evening times for them. Host dinners a couple of times a year specifically for volunteers. This is a great way to recognize them and show them how much their work is appreciated. Make an effort to get to know your volunteers, so you can determine how they best feel appreciated. Here are a few other great ideas to make volunteers feel appreciated.  

3. Offer Times of Rest 

Everyone performs best with breaks for rest and replenishment. First and foremost, make sure that volunteers are aware of the time commitment associated with their role. Provide clear schedules for childcare and student leaders. Ensure that all roles have periods of downtime and encourage volunteers to use these assigned breaks. 

4. Offer Training and Educational Resources 

People sometimes shy away from stepping into a role due to a fear of inadequacy. It’s a good idea to lead your volunteers in role-specific trainings. Helping them feel confident in their abilities will increase their willingness to step up and serve. Equip your volunteers with resources to help them succeed. For example, here are 20 awesome Sunday school resources that would be great to send to your children’s ministry volunteers. 

5. Be Open to Transition 

A stay-at-home mom might initially think she’d serve well in the children’s ministry. Once in that role, she may realize she actually needs Sunday to be a time of adult interaction and could serve better as a greeter at the welcome center. An accountant deals with numbers all week. Rather than placing him in a finance role, offer him a role in the college ministry. If someone steps into a role they think fits them, but then struggles, be open to helping them find an area they’d be better suited for. A certain skillset in the workforce or day-to-day life doesn’t limit volunteers to that area of the church. Guide your volunteers into a role that addresses both their needs and the needs of the church. 

Volunteer Ministry Roles

Are you unsure of where you could benefit from volunteers? Below is a list of areas that churches have utilized volunteers in order to create successful ministries:

  • Children’s Ministry
  • Student Ministry
  • Special Needs Ministry (This article from Church Relevance is a great resource for structuring this type of ministry!)
  • Adult Ministries – men’s and women’s, single and married, divorced and widowed 
  • Administrative Support – janitorial, financial, landscaping, marketing, etc.
  • Outreach – missions and local outreach, counseling and health clinics, prison ministry
  • Congregation Support – event planning (showers and weddings), greeters, ushers, welcome center staff
  • Support Staff – worship team, audiovisual team, prayer team, bookstore and café support, security, transportation volunteers

Leading a strong volunteer ministry is imperative for a strong church. Implement some of these tips and see your ministries flourish! 

Next Steps 

Volunteer leadership is a challenging but rewarding position. Learn how to gain, train, and retain volunteers with how-to coaching, done-for-you resources, and real church examples and interviews with Volunteer Rocket. Start with a free trial to learn how this course can equip you to thrive as a volunteer leader.