Managing Volunteers at Church


In the business world, there are managers and employees. Managers normally have the authority to hire and fire at will, and everyone is working for an hourly wage or salary. If an employee doesn’t do the job as instructed, he or she may be replaced.

But in the church, much of the help is volunteer-based. Many times, people are nominated to and accept positions without knowing exactly what they need to do. So how do you organize and manage these willing people? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Evaluate and assess the need, whether it has to do with the building, Vacation Bible School, a need that needs to be met for a fellow church member, or a need that needs to be met in the community.
  2. Determine which team or committee can best address the need. In the case of a small church with only two or three standing committees, a special team may need to be appointed. I was once appointed to a team to search out a new hymnal and purchase copies in memory of a church member who had passed away.
  3. Engage the group leader or chairperson. Communicate the value of the project, and share your burden.
  4. Seek buy-in from the team members. Get them to catch the vision and commit to seeing it through.
  5. Work with the team to develop a materials list or a detailed plan to accomplish the goal, including who will do which tasks involved.
  6. Follow up during the process to see how things are going and to find out if additional or resources are needed.
  7. See the project through to completion, and keep the ultimate goal in view—the successful accomplishment of the project.

Management of volunteer help depends on the loyalty of the volunteer to the leader. A church will cease to grow when there are powerbrokers who want to push their own agendas and compete with the vision of the pastor or other members. On the other hand, a church will grow if the volunteers believe in their leader and become loyal to his leadership.


Maleah Bell is a freelance editor and pastor’s wife. She and her husband make their home in Middle Tennessee.

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