Avoid the Summer Volunteer Drain

The only thing worse than a sparse auditorium on a summer Sunday morning is a sparse volunteer team at the same time. So how do you avoid a drain of summer volunteers ? Here are few ideas:

Consolidate Positions

Look around your ministries and see where you can consolidate positions so that fewer volunteers are needed. Summer vacations may mean fewer kids in the nursery. Can you merge some classes together and get by with fewer teachers? Perhaps the same could be done with Sunday school classes. Of course, when it comes to kids’ ministries, there’s safety in (adult volunteer) numbers. Don’t staff you kid’s area so thinly that you leave room for a toddler uprising.

If you are providing coffee and refreshments in the morning, think of ways to minimize your volunteers in those positions. Maybe instead of coffee cakes that need to be cut and served, you can switch to doughnut holes that simply need to be placed on a plate. Similarly, assess your parking and greeting team. Could a portion of your parking lot be closed off and could you place greeters a little more strategically? By just evaluating a few areas and consolidating, you can reduce how many volunteers you need while still offering a welcoming and excellent experience.

Extra Affirmation for Summer Volunteers

The beauty of ministry volunteers is how they are willing to serve week in and week in a spirit of love. And for this reason, even the smallest amount of gratitude can be incredibly motivating. Take advantage of summer’s slower pace to thank them. This can be done a few different ways:

  • Your gratitude could be displayed very simply, by bringing them up during the service and giving them flowers and a gift card to a favorite restaurant.
  • Ask your pastoral staff to each write a personal thank-you to a few of your team leaders. Use these notes to acknowledge your gratitude for their service during the summer.
  • Or you could be very elaborate with a faux “awards show,” where the participants dress in their finest, eat a catered dinner and receive dollar store trophies for awards such as “Most number of goldfish served” or “Greeter with the firmest handshake.”
  • A done-for-you “Thank You” system: Simplicity can sometime be best when it comes to saying “thanks” and that’s the thought behind our “What Happens When You Serve” system: it’s a easy-to-implement system that not only expresses gratitude, but provides a reminder of the good your volunteers are doing.

Have Fun

Volunteers fill a serious need, but that’s not to say you can’t make it fun. Step outside the box, branch out and try something new. A few ideas:

  • Let the students run your worship service volunteer positions one Sunday
  • *Host a Volunteer Vision Night (an idea from our Volunteer System).
  • *Have a volunteer contest on social media with prizes.
  • *Highlight a volunteer of the week in the service or in weekly email blasts.


Whether it’s a reassessment of how many volunteers you need, a creative show of gratitude, and a little bit of fun, avoiding the summer volunteer drain is within your reach!