Pastor and Christian Leadership Resources

You can energize the people who help you

  • Published Dec 06, 2001
You can energize the people who help you
A church can't operate without devoted volunteers. A little love and attention will remind them that they are donating their time to the greatest institution this side of heaven.

  1. Volunteers give their best when they feel appreciated. Other than the satisfaction of work well done, recognition is their reward. Public praise from the pulpit, hand-engraved certificates, newsletter recognition, customized thank-you cards are ways ministry assistants are compensated.

  2. Volunteers will do whatever it takes to get the job done when there is flexibility. When you accommodate them at the level of their availability, they are more willing to serve the church. One Sunday school rotates teachers (one month on/one month off) to meet the busy schedules of good teachers.

  3. Volunteers require a detailed job description. Uncertainty breeds anxiety and dissipated energy. Written job descriptions are necessary for paid staff as well as volunteers.

  4. Volunteers tend to renew their commitments when they are given the authority to do their job. Contented workers are those who know you will not step in and take control once the assignment has been given. It doesn't matter if you can do a better job. Let someone else do their best so you can tackle something else.

  5. Volunteers need more time than you do to complete a task. It takes them time to settle in and get their mind on the job at hand before beginning it. Remember, they are not punching a clock and don't have the sense of urgency that the paid staff might have.

  6. Volunteers perform most productively when they are treated like the paid staff. If not included in regular pastoral staff meetings, those who assist around the church during the week should have a staff meeting of their own facilitated by a lead volunteer. The pastor could be invited to drop in to hear their concerns, brief them on issues of significance affecting the congregation, review their personal calendars, and seek their input.

  7. Volunteers deserve training. A job description is not enough. They need to know techniques and tips to do the job correctly and successfully. Dr. Robert Boyde Munger said, First, I do it and you watch me. Then, we do it together. Then, you do it and I'll watch you. And finally, you do it by yourself.

  8. Volunteers need relational support. They need to feel that they can have pastoral support if they need it.

  9. Volunteers need to know there is a freedom to fail. People can learn from their mistakes while not letting them bring them down. Accepting failure allows them to try again for success.

  10. Volunteers need time off. It doesn't matter if they are paid or not, work leaves people pooped. A breather is the best investment you can make to guarantee a high-yield return.

  11. Volunteers should not be taken for granted. It's easy to come to expect a level of performance and focus primarily on their output. You also need to look at the highly-gifted individual with hurts and hopes and family issues. It may delay a project, but the few minutes it takes to inquire about their weekend activities, their spouse's job, or their recent prayer requests will make a difference.

  12. Volunteers need celebration. Taking time to have fun and celebrate life is a great example of the Christian life.

From "Vitamins for Volunteers" by Greg Asimakoupoulos, Just Between Us, Fall 1999, copyright (c) 1999. Used by permission of Telling the Truth Media Ministries, Brookfield, Wis. Subscription price $14.95 per year for four issues. Outside U.S., add $6 per year prepaid U.S. currency; $5 in Canada. Make checks payable to Just Between Us, Subscription Orders, 777 S. Barker Road, Brookfield, WI 53045 or to order by phone call toll-free: 1-800-260-3342.

Greg Asimakoupoulos is director of creative communication at The Chapel of the Air Ministries in Wheaton, Ill. He and his wife, Wendy, have three daughters.