Stop Paying People to Do Ministry

As they grow, many churches eagerly anticipate the moment when they’re finally big enough that they can afford to hire more staff and offer more ministry options for people. For example I’ve heard churches say they can’t wait to hire a Men’s Ministry Pastor. Nothing against Men’s Ministry per se, but that’s an expensive model. If you run it out to its logical end you’re going to have a lot of people on your payroll. Paying people to “do” ministry instead of “lead” ministry is an expensive mistake that many churches fall into. Here are 3 principles that will help you focus the Staffing & Volunteer philosophy at your church.

The Professionalism of Ministry has allowed the Church to Abdicate Responsibility

Just about every Pastor I’ve ever met generally agrees that their role is to, “equip the saints to do the work of the ministry.”  After all it’s pretty tough to disagree with the Scriptures. But unless you’re hiring through this filter of “preparing God’s people for works of service,” (Ephesians 4:11-13) every time you make a hire you’re robbing the church of the opportunity to be the church, as well as the church staff member of their God ordained role. As a Church Staff Member no job should be beneath you, but at the same time a Church Staff Member shouldn’t do every job either. Just see the conversation Jethro had with his son-in-law Moses (Exodus 18:13-26).

Remember that Volunteering is Discipleship

I’ve discovered that many churches still view volunteering as roles that need to be filled instead of people that need to be developed. I think we forget how much spiritual growth takes place in someone’s life 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.

Pay People to be Volunteer Specialists

If you’re going to use volunteers heavily in your church this doesn’t mean you’re not going to pay some staff. But when you do, make sure you pay for administration, mobilization, and highly skilled specialized roles. I say administration because volunteers would rather give their time to ministry that touches people’s lives than pushing paper. Those who are great at mobilization will utilize volunteers well because they know how to drive the project management of a team and think people first and roles second. Finally there are just going to be some highly skilled roles you’re going to need to pay for like the primary communicator/teacher, I.T., and so on.

Posted in Volunteers

6 Responses to “Stop Paying People to Do Ministry”

  1. Stacy February 25, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    Hi Paul, great post! My wife & I lead worship and are in a guest-lead role. We’ve come into situations where the church is fairly large with multiple services but lacks certain musician roles in their volunteer pool. I know this is a slightly different situation that what you’ve mentioned, but what are some points we should consider in either finding volunteers or hiring for specific roles? We’ve heard arguements for both sides but haven’t landed on something we can advocate with conviction. I appreciate your perspective and have learned a lot from your blog. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Dave Patchin March 1, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    Paul…don’t sell volunteers with gifts in administration, helps, service, etc. short. I’ve seen folks with bookkeeping/accounting skill give a 1-2 days a week in service to the church “pushing paper” as their contribution to changing lives. They free up budget for direct ministry rather than admin and love doing it IF you give them real work, a team, and encouragement. Also seen exec. assistants who volunteer 3-4 days a week to serve the Lord in their gifting. It’s not everyone, but they are out there because they are in the body!

    • Paul Alexander March 1, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

      You’re right on! I’ve seen some great volunteers carry an administrative load because their gifted to do it! Just suggesting given the option it’s generally speaking more wise to hire people who can free volunteers up to “touch” others lives through hands on ministry. But yea…great input, we can’t forget that there’s all kinds of different gifts in the Body!


  1. Stuck? 5 Keys to Help Your Church Break Free - ChurchPlants - January 27, 2015

    […] They don’t pay everyone in the church to do ministry, instead they typically have a pretty lean staff (a ratio of 1:100+) and pay those staff to invest in and develop volunteers. They identify young leaders and give them real responsibility to make real decisions and own the ministry. Actually be the church instead of just coming to church. […]

  2. Leading with Fewer Staff: Right-Size Your Team to Equip Others for Ministry | My WordPress Website - May 3, 2015

    […] wrote more on this topic on his blog in a post called Stop Paying People to Do Ministry. Check it […]

  3. Leading with Fewer Staff: Right-Size Your Team to Equip Others for Ministry - TonyMorganLive.com - July 2, 2015

    […] wrote more on this topic on his blog in a post called Stop Paying People to Do Ministry. Check it […]

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image