How many People should be Volunteering at your Church?

Did you know that there is a direct connection between the amount of money a church invests in staffing and the number of people who volunteer? What we’ve discovered in our research at the Unstuck Group is that the as a church increases its spending on staffing the number of people volunteering decreases.

Translation: if you want more people to volunteer at your church you may need to spend less on staffing.

What we’ve learned through our experience and research is that the average church in America is mobilizing 43% of their adult and student population in volunteer opportunities. The reason it is so critical for churches to address this and take steps to move their culture in the right direction is because volunteering is discipleship. It’s not about filling roles and getting ministry done through people. It’s not about what we want from people, but rather what we want for people. Mobilizing people into volunteer roles is the ministry of pastors and church leaders. It is discipleship. Because volunteering and living an others first life is the very essence of what it means to live like Jesus.

Interested in learning more? Download the ebook “Vital Signs: Meaningful Metrics That Keep a Pulse on Your Church’s Health” or consider engaging the Unstuck Group to do a Ministry Health Assessment with your church to discover the health levels at your church and develop a plan to move things forward.

In the meantime below is a free exercise you can do with your team to begin addressing the volunteer culture at your church:

Step #1: Build a complete list of volunteers that are currently serving in the ministry you are responsible for:

  • What is their first and last name?
  • What is their role?
  • How many hours per week do they volunteer?
  • Once you build a master list of volunteers for your church take a moment and identify any volunteer redundancy and then count individual volunteer roles. For example if someone volunteers in 3 different ministries, or in 1 ministry but volunteers in 3 unique roles that is one volunteer fulfilling 3 roles. Come up with a separate list of volunteer roles and a list of volunteers. Are a few people doing the majority of the volunteering?
  • How long have they been volunteering in your ministry?

Step #2: Build a picture of what your ministry would look like if it were staffed properly with volunteers:

  • How many volunteers would it take?
  • What ideal roles would they be serving in and what would the structure look like?
  • How many volunteer hours would it take?
  • How many new volunteers would you have to recruit and place?
  • How many current volunteers would you have to adjust their role and/or hours they volunteer?
  • Create an actual written organizational chart of your ministry to reflect this.

Step #3: Are there any gaps between the current reality of the ministry and this picture of a preferred future that you have built?                       

  • What’s working, not working, confusing, or missing?
  • What are you currently doing to recruit volunteers? Is it working?
  • How do you place your volunteers? Do they love their role?
  • How do you currently train volunteers? Is it helpful?
  • What do you do to communicate with your volunteers? Is it effective?
  • How do you schedule your volunteers? Is it efficient?
  • What is the span of care for volunteers? Are volunteers who are in leadership roles responsible for 20 volunteers or 5-8 volunteers? Is it reasonable?
  • What do you do to support and care for your volunteers? Do they feel supported?
  • How do you measure if your volunteers are doing what needs to be done for the ministry to win? Are you winning?

Posted in Leadership, Volunteers

3 Responses to “How many People should be Volunteering at your Church?”

  1. Bill Weisler March 27, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

    I think it is also important to figure out how you are going to let the congregation know where your volunteer needs are. How do people know that we are short in children’s or that they high school needs more mentors, etc… I think when people see volunteers they sometimes think that everything is covered.

  2. Marc Rettus December 15, 2019 at 11:05 am #

    Ah, working for free while someone else gets paid. Interesting concept. Should anyone get paid? If so, how much? Does any of the staff work outside the church? Like tent making?


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    […] of the things we’ve learned through our research at The Unstuck Group is that the average church in America is mobilizing somewhere around 43% of their adult and student […]

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