4 principles that should shape your volunteer philosophy

If you’re on staff at a church your job is essentially to be a volunteer specialist.

And while volumes have been written on building and leading volunteer organizations, below are four simple (while not easy) principles that should be at the foundation of your philosophy of volunteerism.


1. Your job is to lead others to do the ministry

It’s amazing to me how many times people in ministry forget basic principles the scriptures teach; for instance that the job of the Church Staff is to “prepare God’s people for works of service,” (Ephesians 4:11-13). As a Church Staff Member no job should be beneath you, but at the same time you shouldn’t do every job either. In hiring too many staff to do the ministry there is a danger of robbing the church of the opportunity of being the church, and the church staff members of their God ordained role.

2. Think people first, roles second

Our tendency is to fill roles. We need so many volunteers in the children’s ministry to have the correct child to adult ratio, or greeters on campus, or people directing traffic in the parking lot. The list goes on and on. In fact I’ve even seen some church staff members become possessive of and selfish about their volunteers for fear of losing them to another ministry in the church. What if we actually looked at how people are gifted, what they are passionate about, and where they should be serving according to where God wants them as opposed to filling boxes on an org. chart or magic ratios that we’ve come up with?

3. Volunteering is Discipleship

Almost 20 years later, it is still a vivid memory for me to this day, it was the first time I led a Jr. High Small Group. I was scared to death. Not because they were Jr. Highers, but because I had to be prepared, I had to be further down the road than them and know what I was talking about. I grew so much by leading that Small Group. I think we forget how much spiritual growth takes place as a result of volunteering. Instead of viewing volunteering as filling roles to run a church, volunteering should be viewed as a part of the spiritual pathway of our churches. It’s a subtle yet significant shift that needs to be made in our thinking for the sake of the spiritual formation of the people that have been entrusted to us.

4. Leadership is more caught than taught

So never do ministry alone! Take people with you. Let them see how you interact with teams, make decisions, and lead behind closed doors. Give them access to meetings and people they would never get on their own. Then give them permission to ask questions about what they saw. These could be some of your best coaching opportunities that come up!


Posted in Volunteers

4 Responses to “4 principles that should shape your volunteer philosophy”

  1. Shari February 6, 2012 at 5:59 am #

    Love it!

    “Instead of viewing volunteering as filling roles to run a church, volunteering should be viewed as a part of the spiritual pathway of our churches.”

    Thank you for saying this. smile

  2. paul alexander February 7, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Pastors and Church Leaders need to embrace this idea in order to help their people grow up in their faith and walk with Christ. Thanks for the comment Shari

  3. Tim February 12, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    Great stuff, Paul, thanks!
    I need this type of perspective as I spend lots of time interacting with volunteers.
    Well written, my friend 🙂

  4. Paul Alexander February 12, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    Glad the post was helpful Tim!

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