Creating a Healthy Volunteer Culture

Image courtesy of Morgan

Image courtesy of Morgan

Here at CTA, we talk a lot about creating a healthy staff culture. Just last week I wrote a post to TD’s encouraging them to do a good job of taking care of themselves. I really believe in that, mainly because sometimes, church staffs are not as healthy as they could be. As I was thinking about this concept, it occurred to me that we also have to be sure to build and maintain a healthy culture for our volunteer teams as well. 

I think this falls into two main categories. First is the larger church that has at least one paid tech person, who leads a team of volunteers. Second, is the church that is all volunteer-based. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but they do have different needs. 

Leading Volunteers Well

If you are leading a team of volunteers as a paid staff member, you have a key responsibility. While it is important to get the job done, it’s more important to take care of your team. That means not putting them in a position where they are serving every weekend. I like a 3 week rotation, personally. I find that means people are serving often enough to get and stay good at their position, but still have plenty of time off. 

Sometimes, we come across those “super-volunteers” who just love to be there every weekend and at every event. I love those people. And I try to love them enough to send them home once in a while. Some people do have the capacity and time to be there a lot. And that’s great. But as I advocated last week, be sure they get at least one weekend off per quarter. Every two months would better still. 

I’ve talked to tech leaders who have had a high-capacity volunteer up and quit one day, seemingly out of the blue. But once we dig into it, it’s easy to see that there were plenty of warning signs that were ignored. Remember, your job as a TD isn’t just mixing. You have to pay attention to your team and make sure they’re healthy. And to do that, you have to get to know them. 

The All-Volunteer Team

If you are a volunteer leader of an all-volunteer team, you are in a doubly hard position. You need to stay healthy yourself, which means taking regular breaks, and you need to help your team. I really encourage pastors to help in this process, whether it’s the lead pastor or worship pastor.

In smaller churches, it’s tempting to think that once you have a tech position covered, you can relax and get back to the important things of ministry. The problem is, by not paying attention to the team, making sure they are healthy and getting the breaks they need, you will likely come in one Sunday and find your super-dedicated volunteer isn’t there. And he’s not coming back. That can be a real problem. 

We have to remember that a volunteer works a full-time job, may have a wife and family, and has friends and hobbies that they enjoy. If we ask them to commit every weekend of the year to serving, they will not last long. Or at least they will not be happy long. 

All this people stuff can be hard for technical leaders, I get that. I’m not the most relational person, and I am more naturally geared to staying in my own little world of mixing and system design. But ministry is about people. So even when it’s hard, we have to push ourselves to make sure our people are healthy. I think it would be great if the Church became known as the best place in the world to work and serve. We’re not there yet, but wouldn’t that be cool?

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