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Ed Stetzer: The Importance of Volunteer Leaders in the Church

volunteer leaders

Volunteers who are leaders are essential to the life and growth of a church.

Most of us know how essential a role volunteers play in the life and growth of our church. Healthy churches develop an ethos of valuing volunteers as a vital part of overall effectiveness. But in order for churches to thrive, they would do best to give special attention to volunteers who are leaders and choose leaders who serve as volunteers.

Volunteer leaders come through stages of a ministry.

When I look for either a leader to oversee volunteers or a leader to oversee leaders, ideally I look for someone who has gone through all the stages of the ministry he or she will be leading—someone who has set up the chairs if we’re starting a new church, led a Bible study, or worked in the children’s ministry. Then, once that person has volunteered in those positions, I say, “Let’s see if you can oversee others to do that.”

Furthermore, I love to challenge volunteers to go a little deeper. Challenging volunteers who show a potential for leadership to oversee other volunteers is a great way to do that. If I’ve found a volunteer who has gone through the different stages of the ministry he or she will be leading, then I want to be sure to equip the person with some training. Many people do not know how to delegate well. Have your leaders read a simple book on delegation. Send them to training opportunities and give them the tools they need to do well as a volunteer leader. Treat them as a valuable part of the leadership of the church, because they are.

Volunteers are a vital part of our churches running smoothly. Something that makes them even more remarkable is that they often go unrecognized. Volunteers must be willing to humbly serve Christ and their brothers and sisters without ever expecting to shine in the spotlight.

Volunteer Leaders — A Good Example

One such volunteer I knew who embraced this humble servitude is Dale.

You wouldn’t have heard of him, but he was a guy in my church. One of the key ministries we needed to develop was small-group ministries. He was a new believer — in fact, I had baptized him. I asked him to be the champion of small groups in our church. I asked him to learn more than I knew about it and paid to send him to a conference on small groups.

He went off to the seminar and came back with five or six books he bought on his own. He sat down and made a plan. We went through that plan together and I modified it here and there based on what I knew from seminars I had attended. Then, I had him go and do it.

Not only did he champion small groups in our church, but he led the leaders of small groups as well. He was the perfect picture of this model: He started as a new believer in a small group, he led a small group, he then oversaw small groups in a group zone, and finally he oversaw all of our small groups. And he did all this while working full time at his job.

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is the Dean of Talbot School of Theology at Biola Univeristy and Scholar in Residence & Teaching Pastor at Mariners Church. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches; trained pastors and church planters on six continents; earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates; and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the Editor-in-Chief of Outreach Magazine, and regularly writes for news outlets such as USA Today and CNN. Dr. Stetzer is the host of "The Stetzer ChurchLeaders Podcast," and his national radio show, "Ed Stetzer Live," airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates.