When Volunteers Have Had Enough

When Volunteers Have Had Enough

Thomas CostelloChurch Leadership 3 Comments

Churches can’t survive without volunteers. With few paid staff, church volunteers take on a wide variety of important tasks.

However, you can push volunteers too far. When they’ve had enough, they stop volunteering completely, leaving the church high and dry.

It’s important to keep your volunteers happy and motivated. Without them, it’s impossible to run the church, keep the church growing and run ministry programs.

Most Programs And Groups Stop

When you push volunteers to the point where they’ve had enough, they step away from their tasks. Stop and think about all the different programs and ministry groups that are run completely by volunteers. Could your church afford to stop almost everything but regular services? Your volunteers are your ministry. Without them, the running of your church comes to a grinding halt.

Overall Attendance Drops

No church wants to see attendance dropping. While most members miss one or two services a month, volunteers who don’t feel appreciated or they’re pushed too hard may stop coming altogether. They’ll seek out a new church family that better appreciates all they have to offer. You’re not just losing volunteers. You’re also losing members. If they leave, friends and family may also leave.

New Growth Starts To Decline

Volunteers and members are vital in helping bring in new members. While having a website and social presence help, if you’re treating your volunteers badly, any new members you bring in from those sources probably won’t stay long. New growth is hard enough as it is.

Church volunteers are often the ones responsible for outreach programs that help bring in the unchurched. They invite friends, family and co-workers. They also welcome new members and make them feel like part of the family. Pushing away the volunteers who help boost growth drastically slows down any new growth in your church.

Members Become Stressed

The church is like one massive family. When your entire family is in the same room and part of the family is stressed and frustrated, the others will feel it. When church volunteers have enough, their entire attitude changes. Part of worshipping is also serving. If they don’t feel like they can even do that, they’ll have a negative attitude towards the church.

This attitude causes strife among the members. Tensions rise and before you know it, members are bickering or staying distracted during services. Some may even leave to find a more positive environment.

Church Leaders Feel Unworthy

Naturally, church leaders are going to feel unworthy for pushing volunteers past their limits. In most cases, leaders don’t mean to do anything wrong. For instance, a church leader might have a bad habit of micro-managing volunteers. Doing this too much pushes volunteers and members away.

When church leaders seem to lack confidence, the volunteers who are trying to stick it out tend to leave too. Plus, the entire church family starts to lose morale and motivation.

Solving The Problems

Even if your church volunteers have had enough, you shouldn’t give up hope. God forgives and so will your members and volunteers. You just need to act quickly to stop any negative side effects. The first step is to stop pushing your volunteers away. A few common mistakes include:

  • Guilting them into doing more than they have time or energy for
  • Refusing to hear their ideas
  • Pushing them into opportunities that don’t suit them
  • Micro-managing
  • Never offering leadership opportunities
  • Always focusing on what went wrong instead of what went right

Talk to your volunteers to find out why they’re frustrated and ready to leave. You’ll be amazed at how much you learn. It’s okay to admit if you’re making mistakes, just as long as you’re ready to correct them.

The next step is to start actively recruiting new volunteers. By treating them right from day one, you’ll have highly motivated church volunteers that are ready to help the church grow and thrive.

Are you trying to recruit new volunteers or engage volunteers who’ve left? Use your church website to recruit and connect with your volunteers.

About The Author

Comments 3

  1. The problem with volunteering at my church is a lack of leadership in worship arts. Oh, there’s someone ‘in charge’ but they are not a leader. There are constant lapses in scheduling volunteers and a lack of communication about cancelled or rescheduled rehearsals. In addition, experienced volunteers are pushed aside so that members of the “leader’s” click can serve. It’s frustrating that talent and desire to serve God through service are not allowed because of people. Some of God’s worst PR is people that work in the Church.

  2. I am really struggling with volunteer work at my church but for different reasons. Every volunteer activity I show up for is poorly organized with a couple dozen volunteers chasing their tails and working very hard while the paid church staff sit. Last year I showed up for “community service day” only to be asked to clean out a pastor’s garage where youth camping gear had been stored. I unpacked box after box of ruined equipment that had been put away so wet and filthy that it couldn’t be salvaged. I kept thinking “all of this is paid for with tithes and offerings, and this is how they treat it” and “for what we will have to pay to replace this we could do x instead”.

    My main volunteer role involves cooking a meal for 150 or so homeless people. Every week I am the only experienced cook and every week, in spite of my pleas to the contrary, the church decides that I should not only handle the cooking alone but also teach several teenagers and mentally disabled people how to cook at the same time. The sanitation conditions are awful, I can’t watch everyone at once and struggle to keep their unwashed, ungloved hands out of the food, keep them from wiping dishes with filthy sponges, and keep them from standing over and eating out of the pots while I am cooking. The three paid staff focus not on what is best for the meal but on making sure that every scrap of effort is minimized (for them, not me). Again, the waste of money is shocking as expensive delivery services, etc. are used so that no effort has to be expended to go select quality ingredients. The work is much, much harder than it needs to be, very stressful, and often leaves me so dehydrated and exhausted that I am not well for days afterwards.

    Not all of us need appreciation or leadership responsibilities or growth. Some of us just need to see stewardship, respect, and a heart for the mission over a desire for ease. These 3 things would really go a long way towards changing my experience.

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