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Tim Stevens: Are Volunteers Worth the Hassle?

Be honest: If you didn’t have to work with volunteers, would you? Seriously…if you had all the money in the world and didn’t ever have to work with another volunteer, would it be worth the hassle?

What if you could hire and fire people to do every task in the church? What if, like most businesses, if you wanted to send a mailing or offer an event or redesign your Web site–you could just hire staff or contractors to do it all? Would you ever bother with volunteers again?

If your goal is primarily to get a task done, then your answer is probably a definite “No.” You would never work with another volunteer again. Too much work, right? They sometimes sign up but don’t show up. Or they show up but don’t get anything done. Or they come to serve with three toddlers in tow. Or they go through a divorce or life crisis, and they need more emotional help than you can offer.

If your goal is primarily to save the church money, then your answer is also probably “No.” Since, in this hypothetical situation, your church doesn’t need any money, then you would hire everything out.

However, I would humbly suggest that if your primary goal is getting tasks done or saving the church money–you are missing the point in a very big way. The primary, most important, can’t-be-glossed-over reason for working with volunteers is…(insert drum roll)…life transformation.

I believe there is no greater opportunity to see true life change happen in someone’s life than when they get involved in serving alongside others.

There is something powerful about the combination of 1) serving others 2) in an environment of faith 3) with others who can help you take steps in your spiritual journey–and it’s that combination that serves as a fertilizer for growth. 

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Tim Stevens served as the executive pastor of Granger Community Church in Granger, IN, for twenty years before joining Vanderbloemen Search Group as the Director of the Executive Search Consultant Team where he helps churches and ministries around the world find their key staff. Tim has a passion for the local church and equipping leaders with practical advice and tools about church staffing and church leadership. He has co-authored three books with Tony Morgan, including Simply Strategic Stuff, Simply Strategic Volunteers, and Simply Strategic Growth, and authored three books of his own, including Fairness Is Overrated: And 51 Other Leadership Principles To Revolutionize Your Workplace. Connect with Tim at LeadingSmart.com.