8 Reasons Why People Don’t Volunteer at Your Church

I’ve never worked with a church that has said they don’t need more volunteers. But I’ve worked with a bunch of churches that have trouble getting people to volunteer and stay engaged volunteering. This is a critical issue for churches to figure out. The reason why this has to be a front-burner issue is because at the heart of it, volunteering is an essential component of the discipleship process in someone’s life. Plainly put, volunteering is discipleship. Understanding that, here are 8 reasons people aren’t volunteering in your church…and subsequently aren’t growing in their relationship with God.

1. Don’t Feel Needed

Many people come to church week in and week out, they have an incredible experience and go home thinking, “All of this happens every week without me, what do they need me for?” Churches need to provide vision for people to volunteer and tie it to the spiritual growth process of the church.

2. They Think Staff Should do it

Some people simply have an unbiblical view of church…that the Church Staff should do everything. And unfortunately many churches have only reinforced this with a heavy staffing model and in so doing unfortunately built a culture that says, “Only professional Christians can do ministry.” Churches need to equip, empower, and release their volunteers.

3. Poor Past Experience

Many people have volunteered in the past and had a bad experience. They weren’t supported, encouraged, cared for well, or set up to succeed and they’re not sure they want to put themselves in that position again.

4. Don’t Feel Qualified

Many people don’t feel qualified or worthy to volunteer at a church. I’ve met incredible business leaders and military leaders who won’t volunteer in their churches because they don’t feel spiritually worthy. You need to help people understand that they are gifted and created to serve…even in the church.

5. Too Much Commitment

Some people are either at a stage of life or are over committed with other things and don’t have the time to volunteer. Churches need to provide these folks with easy low commitment opportunities to volunteer and perhaps a bit of coaching to move towards a sustainable pace in their lives.

6. Fear of Commitment

Some people simply are afraid that if they volunteer once then they’re in it for life. They’re afraid of making a commitment that never ends. So provide them with short term opportunities to experiment with volunteering and easy outs or off ramps from seasons of volunteering.

7. Difficult to get Involved

The number one complaint I hear from people who want to volunteer in churches who don’t is that they’ve tried to volunteer, they’ve signed up, they want to but they don’t know how to get involved, it was hard to get involved (they had to take multiple classes or be a member of the church prior to volunteering), or no one ever called them back.

8. Criminal Record

Yea, so you know that background check you run on people who volunteer with minors (and you should)…some people don’t want their past brought up on the results of that background check. So, help them get volunteering somewhere else.

I want to help your church get on the solution side of this conversation. That’s why I want to point you to one of my ministry partners: The Volunteer Rocket. These guys will help resource you with the appropriate tools, systems, and processes to help your church win, when it comes to building a volunteer culture.

Posted in Volunteers

4 Responses to “8 Reasons Why People Don’t Volunteer at Your Church”

  1. Paul Alan Clifford (@PaulAlanClif) January 24, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    Good list. Here’s a couple more:

    9. You’ve said “no” for them instead of asking. E.g. “I better not ask Jim; he’s too busy.”
    10. You’re not asking big enough. Some people only want to do hard things. If you ask them to do something too easy or you minimize how hard it will be, they won’t want to do it.

  2. Krystal April 24, 2016 at 6:13 pm #

    This actually happened to me at my home church. They told the congregation they needed chorus singers. After the service I asked how I could volunteer. They told me I had to be a member and go through all these classes. So I never asked again. We are dual military meaning both serving and 3 kids. I guess I was just surprised to find how difficult that was.

  3. Leslie Brown September 4, 2019 at 5:17 pm #

    I’m overwhelmed as a Stay-At-Home-Home to 3 children. One is 5, who I’m biblical-homeschooling kindergarten. My other two are 2 yrs-old toddler & 7-month baby (and may I add I nurse and change diapers all the time!). I’m also a married to a farmer, who doesn’t work the normal 8-5 but is gone a lot farming and ranching cattle. He really doesn’t get a day off. He even tends to do some work on Sunday afternoons. I’m his assistant with farming paper-work, and cook every meal, including cooking for our hired-man for most lunches. And may I add that we live from 20 miles from our church (or to any town that has a small grocery store!). Anyways, I’m feeling pressure to volunteer at our church. Several weeks ago I was asked to teach preschoolers, which I did before baby 3 came. And it took me 7 to 9 hours a week between preparing, traveling up there & back, and being at the program and teaching. I was so stressed with that. And it made me realize that it was taking my focus away from my children at home, and it was not worth it. And MY teaching part for the preschoolers are only 30 minutes! 30 minutes teaching preschoolers was making me sacrifice 7-9 hours away from my children and doing my duties on the farm to my husband, as a mom. Sorry, I’m writing a lot. I just really need to vent. I had to tell them no. But I was treated horrible for saying no. Maybe, maybe, if they volunteer with up to 7 hours at my home per week, I could reconsider. But I just can’t deal with this right now. Why did they not ask for something more considerable? Something that is less commitment?

  4. Susan January 25, 2020 at 10:58 am #

    There is a lot of nepotism in some churches, meaning they will ask the same people (the most popular, biggest givers) over and over to serve on committees while never asking others, even when those others have volunteered to serve. Most people will be overlooked just so many times until they just don’t care. I never see this being addressed in my research. My church has had some people serve multiple times on search committees or as deacon, while others have never been given the chance. Seems to me there are too many spiritual gifts not being used to serve the church.

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