Home Pastors Ed Stetzer: The Importance of Volunteer Leaders in the Church

Ed Stetzer: The Importance of Volunteer Leaders in the Church

Dale was an essential part in the leadership of our church. We need more volunteers like him, and perhaps they need to do some of the jobs that some pastors are now doing.

You see, too often we hire people when volunteers could do the work just as effectively—if not more effectively. Volunteers who have been a part of the ministry, then lead as part of the ministry, then begin to oversee the ministry, are extremely effective and know the ins and outs in ways that a new hired staff person may not.

Volunteer vs. Paid?

There is often a debate on this, but I believe churches ought to be hesitant to hire staff for all positions, especially in smaller churches, because it sends the signal that people should be paid.

Some may wonder, “Why are you paying this person, but not that person?” If I do need to hire a staff member, by the time I do, I want the job of the new staff person to work hand in hand with the leaders and volunteers who are already in place. This expands our capacity for leadership without creating the mindset that everybody should be getting paid to do work and minister in a church.

Whether a volunteer oversees an entire ministry, leads one small group, organizes donations to the church, lovingly cares for infants during a service, sets up chairs, or greets guests with a smile at the door, volunteers are doing a key service for the church. The church could not function as it does without each and every one of them.


One final note: Pastors and church leaders should take care to avoid the trap of believing that their particular role in a church is better than the role of a volunteer, or valuing the volunteer who oversees the children’s ministry above the volunteer who takes out the trash. We are all humbly pouring ourselves out for others and for the church. Christ loves each of us equally. Let’s give consistent thanks to all who serve in the Lord’s church.

As the life and example of Jesus teaches us, true leadership is not about achieving the highest or most glamorous position. It is about getting down on your hands and knees in the middle of the mess and washing others’ feet.

Our churches could not reach the people they reach without our incredible teams of volunteers. So thank God for them. And tell them you appreciate them. Although the world may never recognize them for their wonderful service, let them know that you see what they do and that you are grateful.

To all volunteers, thank you for the ways you serve Christ and his church.

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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.