Pay Your Volunteers Or They Won’t Stay Your Volunteers



Once I was sitting across the table from a successful land-developer and we were talking about the similarities of starting a business and starting a church. I suggested that they are very much the same but my friend pointed out what he felt was a major difference.


“I think it’s much harder for you to run a church than it is for me to run a company”.

“How so?” I asked.

“In my company I can motivate with money or with losing your job. In your business you work with volunteers. It’s much harder to work with volunteers than real employees.”

You know…I’ve come to discover that he was right.

If you are pastoring a smaller church, chances are there is no one other than you on the church payroll. You do not pay your workforce. They are volunteers. However, just because they volunteer does not mean that they do not need to be paid. There are many ways to pay your volunteers other than money. Here are some suggestions:

1. Mention their name on Sunday mornings during your sermon to commend them for jobs well done.

2. Spend time with them. Take them out to lunch or out for coffee.

3. Give them little gifts like a Starbucks card or something similar.

4. Pray for them and let them know you are praying for them.

5. Have a ministry appreciation night where, for example, you get all the workers together from your Sunday school department for a dinner that you provide. Pamper them, make them feel special. This doesn’t have to be costly but it does need to be nice.

6. Give out awards on Sunday mornings for volunteers who have done a good job or recently completed a new assignment.

One of the biggest differences between pastors and managers of secular businesses is that the pastor works almost exclusively with people that are not paid. I’ve supplied you with some ways to pay your volunteers. You might be able to come up with more. Either way, the smart leader will learn how to pay his/her volunteers. What are your thought?

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