The Five Characteristics of a Great Volunteer

Being able to find a handful of great volunteers is often the difference between a small town church that grows and one that declines. Great volunteers are just as valuable as great staff members. In fact, they may be even more valuable because they’re willing to do the work for free. Before you start thinking about planting a church or transforming a church, it would be wise to find a group of great volunteers to help.

You know as well as I do that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find people who are wiling to give up their time to serve the church. So, I’m not going to pretend that finding great volunteers is going to be easy. It’s not.

The fact is many of you are going to read this list and decide that you have no one in your church who qualifies as a great volunteer. Unfortunately, that may be true, which means you have to work with what you’ve got.

Hopefully, over time you’ll be able to develop someone with these characteristics, or God will bless the church by sending some to you. The church I serve has gained great volunteers in both of those ways.

In fact, I wouldn’t have labeled myself as a great volunteer in the beginning. Thankfully, I had a pastor who saw potential in me and was willing to develop the characteristics I needed to be a great volunteer and eventually a great staff member.

So, what exactly are the characteristics of a great volunteer? These are the five characteristics I would look for.

  1. They own the vision.

I’m looking for someone who is personally engaged in the mission and vision of the church. I want them pulling for me, and not against me. Are they supporting the ministry with their time and money? Are they inviting people to church? Are they positive about the direction the church is going? Normally, if someone has this characteristic, the rest come a lot easier.

  1. They work to make it better.

I want people to be frustrated when things aren’t done well, as long as they’re willing to help to fix it. When they see a piece of trash in the floor, I want to see if they pick it up or not. I pay attention to those who show up to church early and those who leave late. I want volunteers who are constantly thinking, “How can we improve this?”

  1. They help each other.

If you’re going to be a great volunteer, you have to be willing to work with others. I want people who are willing to step out of the media booth when there’s a shortage of volunteers in the kids’ ministry. I want people who are willing to serve in areas outside of “their” team. The only way church works is if we’re willing to work together.

  1. They replace themselves.

If you’re a volunteer who is able to replace yourself, then you become irreplaceable to me. I’m looking for people who aren’t afraid to hand over their position to someone else. I’m looking for those volunteers who encourage and empower others around them because as the church grows, more leaders have to emerge.

  1. They’re always willing to change.

The biggest reason why many rural and small town churches aren’t growing is because of their unwillingness to change. We know the Gospel never changes, but everything else around it does. So, I need volunteers who are willing to change. I know we’ve never had people greeting in the parking lot before, but we’re going to start. I know we’ve never allowed coffee in the sanctuary, but we’re going to start this week. Are they able to embrace change?

This is my list. I’d love to see yours. Share it in the comments below. If you’re small town church pastor who is struggling right now, and you need someone to talk to, visit my contact page. Let’s set up a call. I’d love to help.

A Simple Way to Grow Yourself and Others

I don’t think you would be reading this blog if you didn’t have some interest in growing yourself as a pastor and leader. In this post, I’m going to share with you a simple way you can do just that, as well as grow others along with you. Often I think we try to overcomplicate leadership development, when all that is really needed is a willingness to learn.

As long as you have a willingness to learn, the rest is simple. Start with these four steps.

  1. Pick out a book, blog, or podcast.
  1. Read or listen to it.
  1. Ask two questions:
  • What did I learn?
  • How can I apply it?
  1. Invite others to join you. (Form a group.)

The hard part of leadership development is finding those who have a desire to learn. Once you’ve found them, the developing should come easy.

What are some of the best books, blogs, or podcasts you’ve taken your team through? Share them in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on leadership, church growth, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

How to Know if Its Time to Cancel the Church Event

This year my church cancelled our annual 4th of July event, and I couldn’t have been more proud. It’s not that I’m not patriotic. I am. It’s just that I couldn’t justify spending a significant amount of time and money on an event that was getting few, if any, people closer to Jesus. The congregation really liked the event. Many in the community even came out to see the fireworks, but it wasn’t getting people connected to our church, which made me ask the question, “Should we even be doing this?” For us, the answer was no.

Let me ask you, is your church doing any events that need to be cancelled? I bet the answer for many of you is yes, although sometimes that’s really hard to admit.

Here are a few ways you can know for sure.

  • The event has no clearly defined win. Why are you doing the event in the first place? Unless you’re getting people closer to Jesus or more connected to the church, then you don’t have a good reason for the event. People showing up is not a win.
  • The event is for people already connected to the church. If you’re going to spend time and money on an event, then it just makes sense to try to get guests there. It should be used as an evangelism tool, not just to entertain or satisfy those already in your church.
  • The event competes with other events in the community. For example, our 4th of July event was one of many in the community. We were basically telling people come to ours, instead of encouraging them to support a community event that would put them around people who need to know Jesus.
  • The event never gets evaluated. No one ever asks the questions: was this a success, was this worth the cost, or why should we do this again? It’s just expected every year, so it keeps getting added to the calendar.
  • The event gets rescheduled to keep church people happy. The event has nothing to do with getting new people connected to the church. It’s all about keeping people from leaving the church.

After you compare your event with this list, you’ll know pretty quickly what should do. Now, the question will be, are you willing to make the tough decision? Leave a comment, and let me know what you decide, and don’t forget to subscribe the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.