Are you looking for more volunteers? Why does recruiting volunteers seem to be so difficult? Our friend, Carey Nieuwhof suggests 7 questions that every volunteer asks before saying yes. Consider these questions and find healthy answers to increase healthy volunteer engagement and ministry growth.

So you’d love to see more volunteers serve in your church or organization.

Who wouldn’t?

And yet when it come to volunteers, a surprising number of leaders struggle. Many leaders suffer from:

A chronic shortage

High turnover

Mediocre or poor morale

Ask most leaders why this is, and they can’t If you’re always short on volunteers, ask yourself, “Would you volunteer for you?”tell you.

And yet the reasons are not that difficult to figure out. Often you just need to shift perspectives.

Here’s a simple place to start. If you’re always short on volunteers, ask yourself:

Would you volunteer for you?

Answer honestly. The response can be very telling.

If the answer’s no (or you think the answer is yes, but almost everyone else would answer it for you differently), then the next step is to figure out why. Why aren’t people stepping up or sticking around?

That’s where the next 7 questions can help.

7 Questions Every Volunteer Asks

Almost every volunteer at some point probably asks variations of these 7 questions, whether they ever say them out loud or not. If you’ve volunteered for someone else, you’ve probably asked them whether you realize it or not.

Develop great, healthy answers to these 7 questions, and volunteers are far more likely to stick around.

Better, yet, they’re likely to grow and flourish under your leadership.

Discover what no one told me in 20 years of volunteering.

1. Is This Really About the Mission?

Most people want to give themselves to a cause that’s bigger than themselves. In my view, no cause is greater or more worthy than the mission of the local church.

Yet many churches lose focus on the mission.

Volunteering ends up being about

Filling a slot

Meeting a need

Doing your duty

Or, in the worst case scenario, volunteering can become more about serving the ego of the leader than it does about serving Christ.

When you keep the true mission of the church or When an organization loses focus on their mission, volunteers lose heart.your organization central, people rally. For example, in addition to leading a local church, I sit on the Board of Directors for an extremely well run local food bank. Their mission? A city in which no one is hungry. That’s inspiring.

When you lose focus on the mission, volunteers lose heart.

Every volunteer wants to give their time to something bigger than us or bigger than themselves. So give them that opportunity.New call-to-action

2. Are The Relationships Around Here Healthy?

No community should have better relationships than the local church.

After all, our faith is based on a savior who reconciled the world to himself, forgiving our sin. What could we possibly hold against one another?

And yet often the local church has some of the most fractious, passive-aggressive relationships out there.

We have a savior who came full of grace and truth, yet often church leaders will often swing to either extreme: all grace, so issues are never dealt with, or all truth, so people get hurt.

Even if you don’t lead a church (leaders from a variety of backgrounds read this blog), realize that many people love the mission of the organization they work for, they just can’t stand the personal politics and dysfunction.

One of the greatest gifts church leadership can give to a congregation is healthy relationships. So be healthy.

Not sure what that means?

Start by changing one thing. Talk to people you disagree with, not about them. That will change far more than you think.

Additionally, almost every organization has toxic people in it.

3. Will Serving Help Me Grow Spiritually?

It’s ironic that in many churches and organizations, people equate serving with burning out, not being renewed.

And yet Christian service should be a paradox of renewal: when we give our lives away, we find them. When we serve, we grow.

Part of growing is providing a healthy environment. Pay attention to the issues addressed by the other six questions and you’ll have an environment that favors growth.

But you also need to care for volunteers spiritually, or at least provide an environment in which spiritual growth flourishes.

Pray for them.

Pray with them.

Share your journey.

Encourage theirs.

Mentor your key leaders.

You can’t guarantee spiritual growth will happen, but you can provide the conditions in which it can easily happen.

4. Am I Just A Means To An End?

I wish I could get some of my early years of leadership back. As much as I would have denied it at the time, I think I naturally saw people as a means to an end.

The end was (and is) a great one: fulfilling the mission of Christ’s church.

But people matter. A lot.

Nobody likes feeling used, but that’s often how churches and other organizations treat people.

Care about them. Encourage them. Ask questions. Listen to their stories. Pray for them.

When you have a healthy, Christ-centered, energized team that knows they’re valued, the mission advances further and faster anyway.

Nobody likes feeling used, but that’s often how churches and other organizations treat people.

5. Will You Help Me Develop The Skills I Need?

I have a friend who has visited a lot of churches and non-profits tell me recently that—as well intentioned as leaders are—the vast majority of organizations are, in his view, poorly run.

That’s a tragedy.

Why is the local Walmart better run than the local church? Seriously. One is selling products that last a day, a month or a year. The other is brokering life change that lasts forever. The church should be the best in the world at recruiting, training and releasing people into ministry and their calling.

Many volunteers who come your way are highly capable people who just need a little training to know how to master the specific task you’re giving them.

A good heart just needs to be supplemented Why is the local Walmart run better than the local church? That’s a tragedy.with a good skill set. Set aside an evening or a Saturday to properly train volunteers as they start serving, and then top up their training from time to time to help them get better at what they do.


6. Are You Organized Or Are You Going To Waste My Time?

Disorganization is epidemic among church leaders and non-profits.

Too many volunteers show up to do their job only to discover that they also have to do yours because once again, you’ve dropped some balls.

The more organized you are (on time, prepared, other holes plugged), the more your volunteers will be able to excel at what you’ve asked them to do. As I first outlined in this post, disorganization is one of the 6 reasons many leaders lose high-capacity volunteers. Here are 5 more..

7. So, Am I Signing Up For Life?

In many churches, serving is like the Hotel California. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

You’re a Christian for life, but that doesn’t mean you have to serve in one role for life. But many churches just assume people will.

What if you start putting a time line on every role? What if your conversation sounded more like:

Why don’t you try this for a season?

Can you serve with us for this semester/year?

People in this position typically serve for a 3 year term. You can try it out for a month before you commit to that term.

We definitely have some long term serving roles at Connexus (for example, we ask our high school small group leader to serve for four years), but we’re clear on the term from the outset.

Most other roles can easily be shortened to a few months to a year.

If you start providing end dates for roles, When you give volunteers an out, many lean’ll notice something surprising. Many people stay after their term has ended. They sign up for more.

Surprisingly, when you give volunteers an out, many lean in.

What are you learning about volunteers?

We've just released a brand new eBook, 10 Steps to Give Every Volunteer What They Need <>. Many of these questions are addressed as we discuss how to recruit, train and empower volunteers. Get your free copy today!Get Your FREE Book!

Find the original article "7 Questions Every Volunteer Asks But Never Say Outloud" by Carey Nieuwhof.