Why People Don’t Want to Volunteer at Your Church (Part 1)

If you have been in church work for very long at all then you have felt the need for more volunteers. You know who you are. You need more teachers to teach, more greeters to greet, and even more ushers to well, ush. …whatever that is.

I have been around some really small churches with not many volunteers and some of the largest churches in the world, with thousands of volunteers, but I’ve never been around a church that had enough volunteers. However, there are definitely some churches out there that are in better shape than others.

From what I’ve seen, there are 8 reasons that people don’t want to volunteer at your church:

1. It’s Unimportant

In a lot of cases, people aren’t volunteering in your church, simply because nobody asked them to or told them how important it is. Yes there is the weekly beg section in the church bulletin that attempts to guilt a few parents into serving in the nursery but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a systemic plan led by the senior pastor that articulates the importance of serving and inspires attendees to take action. I’ve seen this done both through monthly classes and annual pushes, but either way, it all starts with communicating importance and inspiration.

2. It’s Inconvenient

Part of the problem is that even if there is an inspiring appeal made, there is not an easy way  to sign up for more info. Signing up must be simple and immediate…period. Too many times people are told to go out to a table in the lobby to sign up. That sounds like a great idea until you realize that if and when they get there the line is too long so they just move on to pick up the kids and head to lunch. Think of all the people you miss. Other times, people are told to contact so-and-so if they are interested but once they leave the church property, they never think about it again until the next Sunday. A better option is to have a card ready that spells out the options and that can be filled out and turned in on the spot, even without a person even having to leave their seat in the service.

3. It’s Unclear

Another issue is that just because we know all about our ministry areas and volunteer positions, it doesn’t mean that everyone does. People need an easy way to get a feel for a position before they commit. The best way to do this is through info meetings. When people sign up, let them know that they are not committed to anything yet, but invite them to an info meeting where you can walk them through the vision, qualifications, and expectations of what you are asking them to do. Also, the more printed materials that spell all of this out in writing the better. Then and only then people will know what they are getting themselves into and they will stick around longer as a result.

4. It’s Uninviting

The best  (or worst) recruiting tool that you have is that many of your people walk through your different ministry environments each and every week. This could be great if they like what they see, but the problem might be that they don’t see a culture happening that they want to be a part of. Before you can expect people to come running off the sidelines and into the game, you’ve got to create a fun, well-organized team that seems like it’s winning. This might apply mostly to family ministry environments but one thing I’ve found is to never underestimate the power of a free t-shirt. Giving out swag to volunteers is a fun and easy way to create an exclusive sense of camaraderie that others want to be a part of.

Stay tuned for part two.

Click here to download a FREE ebook on the Seven Deadly Sins of Leading Volunteers to find out if you are doing any of them.