The Best Way to Lead Your Volunteer Teams Without Burnout
By: Jessica Barro
The body of Christ truly comes to life in the heartbeat of its congregation and the volunteers that serve week in and week out. Volunteers faithfully give up their time, talents, and treasures to make God known in every moment. Their dedication and support enables leadership to shepherd and guide their congregations in other capacities. Volunteers are vital to the growth and vibrancy of the Church. Caring for and protecting volunteers from serving fatigue should be of the greatest importance and highest priority.
Below are five ways you can lead and steer your volunteers away from burnout:
1. Schedule in Advance and Rotate
This is one of the more practical ways to avoid volunteer burnout. There will always be those faithful volunteers that love to serve week in and week out, but in realistic terms most people have schedules that aren’t as flexible. It is easy for volunteers that serve on a weekly basis to feel overrun, exhausted, and in need of a break.
We know that volunteers will give us their time and energy and in turn we want to be mindful of volunteers who go above and beyond to maintain balance in their life. Creating a biweekly or monthly schedule allows volunteers to make time to give of their gifts and talents. Scheduling also allows leadership to see gaps in advance and create a plan to fill them.
2. Give Space for Practical Feedback
Whether personal relationships, work, or even serving on the volunteer team, no one enjoys feeling unheard and unseen. The ability to have different perspectives and insights is one of the most beautiful things that God gave us as the body of Christ. Giving volunteers the ability to have feedback and a voice about their experience will create a culture of trust and collaboration. Having the opportunity to provide feedback enables volunteers to find areas of growth and provides ownership of their service to the congregation.
3. Constantly Remind Them of The Vision
Making sure a weekend service runs smoothly can easily turn into another mundane task. The importance of recasting vision reminds us of why we do what we do and whom we are doing them for. Taking these moments to pause, refocus, and see God moving in glimpses throughout a weekend service redirect our eyes to the greater vision. Whether that be setting up lights on stage to a simple hello to those walking into your doors, constantly casting vision gives us perspective for those who need to see Jesus in us.
4. Intentional Connection
One of the greatest challenges for volunteers is lack of connection beyond their weekly serve. There is always an ask for service, but we need to be intentional to also ask for relationship. Jesus was the perfect example of this with his disciples. When Jesus met each of his disciples where they were and asked for them to drop everything, follow him, and serve, He did not stop there. Jesus continued to do life alongside his disciples. He led by example and shared in joy and hardship with them.
Community involvement beyond one to two hours a weekend is key to volunteer retention and joy. Challenge your faithful volunteers to come alongside the newer volunteers to disciple, connect, and grow with your team. Nothing is sweeter than seeing the body of Christ learning, growing, and maturing together. This also frees us as leadership to know that the church is truly being the church and taking responsibility to grow together.
5. Simply, Enjoy God
In Genesis, God spoke, created, and saw that it was good. God creates things so that we can experience and enjoy Him. God gives us the opportunity to serve and give to one another so that we may experience Him in those things. The importance of enjoying God while we serve sets the pace and intention in why we give of our time, talents, and treasures. Healthy, joyful people chose to be used for God’s glory and seek to bless others.
In leadership it is so easy to get defeated by volunteer burnout, but Jesus can revive and restore all that is broken and exhausted. Scheduling your volunteers puts you in a position to be strategic and enabling their voice to be heard sets the atmosphere of trust. Recasting vision sets their eyes on what their contribution does for the kingdom as a whole. Seeking out intentional relationship gives volunteers the community that Christ created us for and a pure joy in God should be the vital underlying source of our heart to serve others.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30