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Need Volunteers? Maybe Your Staff Is Too Big

Many churches have a vision for getting more people to volunteer and serve in the ministry. Fewer churches actually make it happen. One of the reasons is because they lean on staff to do ministry.

A few weeks ago, I was at Lifepoint Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Their ministry needs to be on your radar. They’ve grown by over 50% in the last 12 months. But that’s not what’s most unique about this ministry.

What’s unique about Lifepoint is their commitment to giving ministry away to volunteers. They have several strategies for making that happen, but let me highlight the most obvious one — they don’t hire staff to do ministry.

Of all the churches I’ve worked with over the last couple of years, Lifepoint has the lowest staff to attendance ratio. They only have 1 full-time equivalent staff member (that includes all staff, not just ministry staff) for every 150 people in attendance. Only about 35% of their budget is spent on staff expenses.

Because they have very few staff, they are forced to empower volunteers to do the ministry. Almost 70% of their adults volunteer. That’s the highest percentage of adults volunteering of all the churches I’ve worked with.

So if you’re following at home: Lifepoint has the record for the fewest staff compared to attendance, and they also broke the record for the most people volunteering. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

This is another simple reminder that you can have a strong vision, but it’s good systems and strategies that shift behaviors. This is just one example of that principle. Unfortunately, many churches hope (and pray) for different results, but they’re unwilling to change their systems and strategies. You can’t have both.