What is the curse of a great volunteer? It is being taken for granted or worse being taken advantage of.
This happens in small churches, midsized churches, and megachurches. Size doesn’t matter. The question is why does it happen? There are many reasons. Below are just a few.
- Ministries grow faster than the existing volunteer base can support.
- Ministry leaders struggle to fill volunteer roles and lean on great volunteers to “temporarily” step in.
- Ministry leaders have good hearts but are just not good managers of people.
- Ministry leaders value programs over people and as a result, treat volunteers as an expendable resource.
- Great volunteers have a BIG heart and want to make a difference but routinely overextend themselves.
- Other people in the church stay on the sidelines because they know some other great volunteer will step up.
- Great volunteers struggle to say no.
Ministry leaders hear me out! Great volunteers are your greatest asset. They should be treated like gold. One great volunteer is worth more than ten to fifteen semi-committed volunteers.
I am pretty sure it says somewhere in Proverbs, “Blessed beyond measure are ministry leaders with great volunteers. They are rarer than precious jewels. Cursed are ministry leaders who take for granted or take advantage of great ministry leaders. It would be better for those ministry leaders to be drowned in leftover potluck chili than to mistreat great volunteers.”
When great volunteers are taken for granted or worse taken advantage of their days of serving are numbered. If you lose great volunteers the health of your ministry will struggle, and growth will not be sustainable.
Ministry leaders, make it a priority to bless all your volunteers but be sure to go above and beyond for your great volunteers. What can you do?
- Pray for your volunteers by name.
- Mail “hand-written” thank you notes and mail them out routinely.
- Make an effort to say hello to every volunteer each week thanking them for serving.
- Make videos to celebrate their work. Share them with the whole congregation in service and on social media.
- Do something small for them every month. For example, treat them to breakfast before serving, give them a small gift like a bracelet, set up a volunteer photo booth, etc.
- Do something BIG yearly for your volunteers. For example, roll out the red carpet for a volunteer appreciation banquet.
- Offer yearly and quarterly training.
- Create a volunteer of the month award and post it on the wall in your ministry area.
In addition to the list above consider doing something absolutely radical as a ministry leader. Empower your volunteers to take care of themselves by taking breaks from serving.
When you value your people more than your programs you will see the health of your ministry grow. Healthy things grow.
For further study on how to help yourself and your volunteers embrace the word “no.” Check out the following article: “It’s OK to Say No.“