5 Ways to Kill your Volunteer Teams

Countless thousands of church leaders have learned over decades (some the hard way) that “Lone Ranger” leadership doesn’t have a place in the local church.

God created us as humans to be in relationships with other people. And not only for connection-sake, but also so that we could accomplish things for Him.


Successful churches have learned that God loves to work through Teams. The lid on so many churches is that the few “upper-level” leaders simply keep all the responsibilities for themselves.

But God has a better way.

One of the most quoted verses in the Bible tells us that, “When there are 2 or 3 people gathered in His name, He will be in the midst of them.”

Story after story throughout the Bible shows us how that God uses Teams to conquer cities, go through fiery furnaces, re-build walls, evangelize towns, start food programs, and so much more.


So it makes sense that the most powerful and effective churches in the nation are building strong TEAMS to accomplish the work of ministry.

Parking Teams, Greeters, Kids Ministry Teams, Coffee Teams, Guest Services, Prayer Teams, Media Teams, etc.

As you’ve probably heard before, “Teamwork makes the Dream work.”

However, with every organization, whether it’s a corporate business or a local church, building strong teams takes work.

We have to be intentional with our communications, our systems, our trust, and our expectations.

And if we aren’t careful, we can unintentionally do some things that essentially Kill our Teams.

Here are 5 Ways to Kill your Volunteer Teams:

1. Don’t share the vision. Just give the task.

Let me give you an illustration:

Imagine I gathered a group of people around a table and talked to them about a new business idea that I wanted to start.

  • I told them why I wanted to start it.
  • I told them how big of a difference it’s going to make.
  • I painted them a clear picture of what it’s going to look like.
  • I shared the strategy of how we’re going to get there.
    They could feel my excitement.
  • I told them clearly how I wanted them to be a part of it.
  • I told them how important they are to the success of the business, and that need their help to make it happen.

Now imagine a different scenario:

Imagine I called a group of people and asked if they could come in at 6:00 to direct traffic as people come into the parking lot.

From those two scenarios – COMPLETELY different real-life feel.

People don’t mind doing tasks, but Vision drives Passion.

If you want your teams to be passionate about the work they are doing, you have to invest time with them, sharing the vision, sharing the heart of the lead-team, sharing the WHY, not just the WHAT.

And remember this: Vision Leaks.

Pouring into your teams through vision-talks, is like refueling their gas tanks.

But if we don’t regularly talk about the vision, and bring them along the vision-journey, they’ll soon just feel like they’re doing a task that doesn’t really matter.

2. Don’t give them the tools they need

There’s nothing more frustrating than knowing that people are expecting you to do something, but you aren’t equipped to do it.

The teams within your church need to know that the Pastors and the lead team are committed to resourcing them and making sure they have the tools and training necessary to accomplish their jobs with excellence.

This looks different for different teams.

  • For the Kids Ministry team, maybe the senior teachers and leaders need to be able to go to a conference each year.
  • For the Parking Team, maybe they need 10 new umbrella’s for escorting people in on rainy days.
  • For the Admin team, maybe they need a great new software for guest follow-up. (Shameless plug for Faith Teams : )

Seriously, we don’t have to answer every request, and we don’t have to buy the most expensive coffee maker on the market, but our teams need to KNOW that they have to support of the Pastors and Lead Team.

3. Pressure people to serve on your schedule, not theirs

Ever volunteered for something only to look up 10 years later and realize you took on a full-time role accidentally?

Some people WANT to serve every week.

But… … … Some people don’t.

As we build teams, we have to build a structure to allow people to serve as they want to, and don’t put any pressure on them to do more than that.

At our church, most people serve every other week. We give them options, and ask plainly as they are on-boarding onto a team. Then as our team leaders are scheduling volunteer teams, they only ask them to serve according to THEIR schedule.

See…we don’t know what’s going on in their life right now.

  • Maybe serving once a month is best for them during this season.
  • Maybe serving every week is best for them during this season.

We don’t know, and it’s NOT up to us to decide.

4. Don’t build strong Team Leaders

One of the most effective ways to kill your teams is to not build strong team leaders.

My favorite leadership quote is:

“Everything Rises and Falls on Leadership”. –John Maxwell

This is so true.

If Teams are going to be Great Teams, they need Great Team Leaders.

Leadership makes the difference.

Spend time Identifying and Developing Team Leaders, and let them do their THANG.

5. Don’t Show Appreciation

Probably the #1 Team Killer is a Lack of Appreciation.

Remember this: Appreciation is only powerful if it is SHOWN. You can’t keep it to yourself, or it will never be known.

Use every means possible. Be creative. Use your imagination.

Just make sure your volunteer teams know that they are appreciated.

We all want to be appreciated, and to be reminded that:

  • I’m Making a Difference.
  • My efforts aren’t going un-noticed.
  • They appreciate my work.
  • I’m a part of a great team who loves me.
  • This is my tribe.
  • I love what I do.
  • I’m a valuable part.
  • Volunteer Teams are the back-bone of strong and growing churches.


As church leaders, we bust the lid off our churches by building strong teams.

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