Church volunteer burnout is real, and it’s costly. When a children’s ministry helper asks to speak with you in private, your heart sinks. You know what’s coming. You listen as the volunteer says:
“I’m going to have to stop serving. My life is just too busy right now, and I can no longer commit to this. I’m sure you’ll find someone else to take my place.”
Sound familiar? I’ve experienced this many times. Though the volunteer doesn’t actually use the word burnout, that’s what they’re feeling. And if finger-pointing is called for, it should be pointed at me. Church volunteer burnout often comes back to poor leadership.
How KidMin Leaders Can Avoid Church Volunteer Burnout
Consider these seven reasons that children’s ministry leaders cause volunteer burnout:
1. Volunteers burn out because I place them in the wrong serving role.
When I first met with them about serving, I asked where they would like to serve. They said, “Wherever you NEED me.” And that’s exactly where I placed them…where I needed them. The problem? It wasn’t in a role that aligned with their gifts, talents, personality, and passion. As a result, serving became a burden rather than a blessing for them. It became a chore rather than a cherished hour, and a duty rather than a delight.
If you want volunteers go the distance with you, don’t place them where you need them. Place them where they need to be. Do this by asking one simple question. Read more about it in this post.
2. Volunteers burn out because I don’t set them up for success.
I shoved them into the role without providing adequate training. I should have provided them with a clear job description. To succeed, they needed hands-on training for several weeks with an experienced volunteer and the proper resources. Rather than just saying “good luck” I should have provided them with “good training.”
3. Volunteers burn out because I don’t help them connect.
I just assumed they would establish relationships. But I should have provided opportunities to connect with other volunteers outside the classroom. I should have invited them over for dinner with other volunteers. And I should have grabbed coffee with them and other volunteers with no agenda but to spend time together.
4. Volunteers burn out because I demand too much of their time.
I required them to attend too many teachers meetings. And I made the meetings way too long. Then when VBS rolled around, they were the first person I asked about giving some additional time. They finally stepped back and looked at how much time I was asking. Then they decided the cost was too high to pay.