When a Volunteer should become a Staff Member at your Church

In growing churches it’s not uncommon for high capacity volunteers to serve as and function like paid ministry staff members. Instead of paid staff members I’ve seen volunteers oversee entire ministry segments in a church even attending weekly staff meetings and staff retreats. But when is the right time to hire that person and move them from a volunteer to a paid staff member?

To put all my cards on the table I must admit that I’m a bigger fan of developing volunteers than I am of hiring staff. But sometimes the right thing to do is to make the hire.

Some people will tell you that this tension hinges on one simple issue. I’m not of that persuasion. In fact I think there are multiple factors you should take into consideration before you pull the trigger on hiring a volunteer who has “worked their way into a job.”

1. Availability: If the volunteer that is leading the ministry moved away would you have to pay someone to replace them?

2. Impact: Is the impact and scope of the ministry the volunteer is leading broad enough and deep enough that you’re beginning to think about whether you should be paying them or not?

3. Specialization: Sometimes the role requires a specialized skill-set that simply demands a salary if you’re looking for a particular quality. This isn’t uncommon in a teaching role, technology, or creative arts.

4. Accountability: While hiring someone involves a salary, it also involves another level of accountability.

5. Time: How much time is the volunteer investing in the ministry? Is it a 40 hour a week job?

6. Leadership: Do they know how to build teams and develop people? Are you going to pay them to do ministry, or lead people to do ministry?

7. Culture: Do they understand, embody, and know how to perpetuate the unique culture you’re building at your church?

What other questions come to mind? What should church leaders be asking to determine if they should pay for a role or not?

Leave a comment; I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Posted in Leadership, Volunteers

6 Responses to “When a Volunteer should become a Staff Member at your Church”

  1. Jim Lacy February 14, 2016 at 8:52 pm #

    While hiring should always be an option, many high functioning volunteers have no desire to give up a 6 figure salary just to draw a church paycheck.

    Don’t you think there are other ways to “pay” volunteers? Building a relationship with the volunteer, knowing his “favorites” in life, knowing his needs, identifying what you as his pastor can do that no other person can do is many times far better than a paycheck.

    If Ephesians 4 is still relevant we merely must pastor these great leaders to inspire them to do more.

    Then, when all else fails…hire

    • Paul Alexander February 16, 2016 at 7:47 am #

      Great input Jim! Thanks for adding to the conversation!

  2. Kathy Widenhouse February 17, 2016 at 9:43 am #

    Another good item to check on is for the volunteer’s fit into the staff team in terms of strengths. Does this person have strengths that help round out the team? God builds teams by putting people with different strengths together.

  3. Jim Lacy February 17, 2016 at 10:19 am #

    I agree. However more growth occurs when the volunteer brings strengths the staff lacks. A pay check does always assure the staff member has all it takes. On the contrary Ephesians 4 demands we equip saints for works ,of service, which many times includes bringing gifts lacking in the paid staff. The first step in growing a,church must be admitting we as pastors NEED the gifts, strengths and passions of the volunteer..to help complete what God has started .

  4. Benjer McVeigh February 23, 2016 at 10:45 am #

    #6 is huge. In general, staff members should be developers of leaders and volunteers. If bringing a high-capacity volunteer on the payroll will make an impact in developing leaders and volunteers, pull the trigger. If they’re really good at a particular skill, keep utilizing a volunteer in that role until it becomes absolutely necessary to pay a specialist.

  5. Maurice Kreul March 11, 2016 at 9:06 pm #

    Responsible for managing and overseeing attendee volunteers placing them in accordance with other department needs, escorting attendee volunteers to and from areas.

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