CTA, Inc.

Why Doesn't Anyone Want to Serve?

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Volunteers always seem to be needed in the church. Recognizing all your volunteers and using these ideas to find new ones can help you overcome this perennial challenge.

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Introduction: Recruiting volunteers feels like an ongoing, heavy struggle. Here is an idea for turning that on its head! It’s a wonderful thing when volunteers are serving where God has gifted them and where they are most passionate.


It’s great for everybody when people are volunteering! When people volunteer, they bring talents that complement the talents of the church staff.


  • People are ready to serve before we have a need for it.
  • There is a better alignment of passions and talents (people are doing the right things).
  • People are serving longer because they’re doing things they’re good at.

What’s in the way:

  • People are busy.
  • People are unsure of themselves when it come to leading (wondering “Am I fit?”).
  • We give one person a task that’s way too big.
  • We don’t give an end date for the service we’re asking for.

Here’s how to make it easier to get volunteers:

  • Realize there are more volunteers doing things than you realize. Highlight how people are serving and appreciate that service.
  • Recognize why people aren’t serving:
    • We haven’t asked them.
    • We’ve asked them to do something they’re not passionate about.
    • We haven’t prepared them.
    • We don’t let them lead, give them room to flourish.
  • Best ways to ask:
    • Make the request personal: face-to-face, phone call, letter, email.
    • Start with “I’ve seen these gifts in you . . .” or “[Someone else] has seen these gifts in you . . .”
    • Be sure to find the right fit; get to know the person.
    • Pray about the position and about the volunteers.
    • Use trial and error.
  • Prepare them. Give the volunteer enough time to get acquainted with the task and have time to ask questions (You watch me do it; I’ll watch you do it; Now, do it by yourself).
  • Let them bring their talents and vision for the role, avoid over-defining the job.



Thought Starters:

  • What volunteer opportunities will be opening in the next year? As I pray about them, who comes to mind?
  • How can I better get to know the interests and talents of the people in our congregation? Is there a team of people I could ask to “keep their ear to the ground” and think about how people’s interests would connect with service needs in our church?

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