Tag Archive - paid

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Why People Volunteer at some Churches but not at others

Ever notice that a lot of churches feel like a spectator sport? You know, the kind of place where people sit around watching the paid staff do everything. The average church in America engages around 45% of their average adult and student attendance in some kind of volunteer role (check out the Unstuck Group Health Assessment for more info like this). But there are those churches that are above average. The top 10% of churches somehow seem to break all the normal statistics and engage more than 70% of their average adult and student attendance in some kind of volunteer role. Here are a couple of things they do different.

#1 High Challenge

They don’t just make an announcement, they don’t just ask, they don’t simply provide the opportunity to serve, these churches challenge people to serve. What comes natural to us is ourselves and these churches combat self-oriented thinking with a high challenge to put faith into action by serving others. They know that you can not serve God without serving people.

#2 Flexibility

Ever notice that people are busy? Most people don’t have hours and hours per week to volunteer at your church. Churches that engage the most volunteers understand this and they are flexible. They don’t’ require volunteers to be involved in everything, instead they invite them to be involved in what they can be.

#3 Fewer Paid Staff

These churches actually have fewer staff, not more staff. Instead of paying people to do ministry they pay staff to lead volunteers. Churches that get stuck loading up on staff end up dealing with the unintended consequences of having staff doing everything and church attenders watching them instead of joining them.

#4 Say Thank You

It’s so simple to say thank you, but so few churches actually do it. I’m not talking about saying thank you from the stage (although that’s not a bad start), but in a personal face-to-face conversation, a handwritten note, or even walking through the kids ministry area during service and popping your head into each kids ministry classroom and saying thank you in the moment.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Volunteers

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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

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Why People don’t Volunteer at Church Anymore

According to the U.S. Census Bureau 1-in-4 adults volunteered their time in 2013. Altogether, 62.6 million Americans volunteered nearly 7.7 billion hours in 2013. Based on the Independent Sector’s estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour, the estimated value of this volunteer service is nearly $173 billion.

People in the community you live in volunteer their time. That includes people in your community who know Jesus and those who don’t know Jesus. But are they volunteering at your church?

In our research at the Unstuck Group we’ve discovered that:

  • The average church in America engages 43% of their adult and student attenders in some kind of volunteer role.
  • The Top 10% of churches in America engage more than 72% of their adult and student attenders in some kind of volunteer role.

That being said, I’ve never worked with a church that said they had enough volunteers to accomplish the vision that Jesus has given them. In fact here are some of the most common reasons why people may not be volunteering at your church:

1. Your Church has too many Paid Staff

A common reason many churches lack volunteers is because they pay their staff to “do” the ministry instead of “lead” the ministry. At the Unstuck Group we encourage churches to move towards a staffing ratio of 1:100 (1 full-time-equivalent staff person for every 100 people attending the church). The most effective churches have a tendency to move towards having fewer, more competent, and higher compensated staff.

2. Your Church has no Compelling Vision

Volunteering is one of the ultimate statements that someone can make that says, “I believe in this place and I’m with you.” The percentage of people volunteering at your church should act as an indicator as to how many people have bought into your vision and are “with you.” Does your church have a compelling vision that naturally inspires involvement?

3. Your Church has Poor Volunteer Strategies

Poor volunteer strategies are common in church-world. Often times we make it difficult for people to volunteer by making them fill out an exhaustive multi-page application, do a face-to-face interview with a staff member, go through a background check (which I’m in favor of when it comes to working with minors), take a class, or be a church member. Making people jump through hoops to volunteer that are often meant to increase commitment can actually have the converse affect and become barriers for people to overcome that they simply won’t waste their time with. There is a difference between volunteering and leading. I imagine there are probably some roles at your church where someone doesn’t even need to know Jesus to volunteer.

4. Your Church cares more about the Ministry than the Volunteer

Asking people to volunteer every week in the kids ministry because you have a value of consistency for the kids involved in the kids ministry may be noble, but alas ineffective. It’s a sure way to lose volunteers. It also keeps others from getting involved because the same person is in there volunteering every week, not making room for more volunteers. Often times I see churches that care more about what they can get out of a volunteer instead of what they can invest in a volunteer. Churches forget that volunteering is discipleship. People actually grow spiritually by volunteering and living out an others oriented life. So why not do what’s best for the volunteer instead of the kids? Those kids aren’t there every week anyway. If you do what’s best for the volunteer, chances are you’ll have happier, more fulfilled and more consistent volunteers. Which would make for a better ministry wouldn’t it?

At the Unstuck Group we help churches benchmark their behaviors and metrics to gauge their Church Health through a Ministry Health Assessment tool. Interested? Follow this link to learn more.


Posted in Leadership, Volunteers