Why People Don’t Want to Volunteer at Your Church (Part 2)

This is a two part series. Click here to read 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:

5. It’s too Uniform

One reason that people don’t want to volunteer at your church is that there aren’t enough positions that require different levels of qualification and involvement. Too many churches have too few ways to get involved. And the problem is that most of them require a person to be a mature believer that is a member of your church before they can jump in. The churches that do that best job of mobilizing massive numbers of volunteers have positions for virtually everybody. You need to have positions that serve every week and some that serve once a month. Some for members, some for nonmembers. Some for people to be on stage and some behind the scenes. Some that commit for a year and some that commit for as many as four. And some for seasoned Christians as well as some still trying to figure this whole Jesus thing out.


6. It’s too Impersonal

Another problem is that people feel like that if they sign up, then they will just be thrown into some room somewhere just to fill a volunteer hole. One mistake that many churches make is that they don’t have a person that is in charge of each area, or that span of care is so large that volunteers don’t have access to the person who is in charge. Every volunteer should have somebody’s number in their cell phone that leads their area that they know they can call at any time. The best thing you can do is break down the leadership of volunteer areas into bite size chunks so that every volunteer is known personally, cared for, celebrated often, and pastored by the person in charge of their area. Every volunteer team should feel like a small group that just so happens to have a job to do. An additional byproduct treating volunteers this way is that, your current volunteers will be gaining something so powerful and valuable in their lives that they will invite others to jump in and get involved as well.


7. It’s too Impractical

Another mistake that churches make is that they don’t do the simple things that make it easier for families to volunteer on Sunday mornings. The best 2 ways to do this is to feed them and take care of their kids. Getting the whole family to church is hard enough, but getting them there early enough to serve is next to impossible. The least we can do is take making breakfast off of their plate by providing some coffee, bagels, donuts, etc. in a green room for volunteers only. The other issue is that volunteering often involves staying for more than one service. We need to provide a room where children of volunteers can hang out and have fun instead of sitting through the same children’s program for a second time. And if you only have 1 service, and volunteering requires missing it altogether, then make sure you are providing volunteers with a free copy of the service that they can watch or listen to later.


8. It seems Unending

Maybe the biggest reason that people don’t want to volunteer at your church is that there is no end in sight. The commitment is open ended and the perception is that people are just supposed to serve until Jesus comes back. One of the best things you can do is provide easy on ramps and off ramps for serving. Let people know ahead of time how long the commitment is for each position: 1-year? 2-years? 3-years? 4? Even if a position, like leading a small group in student ministry, requires a multi year commitment, at least they know that and don’t feel locked in forever. What I’ve found is that people are still very likely to re-up when the time comes, they just want to have that opportunity to do so.


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.