6 Ingredients of a Great Volunteer

I’ve had the privilege of serving alongside many great volunteers in my years of ministry.  I thank God for these people in my life and yours.

Great volunteers start by great leaders recruiting and training them properly. Just like a delicious pizza from Urban Crust here in Plano, it all starts with high quality ingredients. So what do you look for? What ingredients make up a high quality volunteer for any ministry? I’ve come up with six basic ingredients of a great volunteer…

Great Volunteers are Vetted Properly

Unfortunately, we have to start with the unpleasant fact that the world we live in today is a little nasty. Whether you are a church of 5000 or a church of 50, if you’re not doing a background check on your volunteers along with a pretty thorough search through their social profiles, you’re asking for it. Find out who is volunteering in your ministry and find out who they really are. Doing the legwork up front is much better than potentially doing the legal work later. Facebook is the new resume.

Great Volunteers are Coachable

The ability to take instruction isn’t a calling; it’s a skill. My dad has coached team sports for most of my life and I’ve learned that a team of coachable kids who are average are much stronger than a group of top talent who think they know it all. Your leaders need to be the sort of people who can take constructive criticism.

Great Volunteers have Social Skills

Obviously, the people in leadership should be able to carry on a regular, non-weird conversation with others. Ultimately, they are your best recruitment poster for your future volunteers, so find volunteers you would want dressed as Uncle Sam’s pointy finger or either do the hard work and train them to be. That link wasn’t what you were expecting, was it? Welcome to the blog.

Great Volunteers Love People

Some people will volunteer because they like doing behind-the-scenes work and that’s super cool. However, even if the work isn’t on the stage, there will still be people to interact with on most occasions. You know what makes folding Sunday bulletins even less exciting work? Folding bulletins with a weirdo that keeps trying to show you “this weird thing that popped up on my back.” Having compassion and patience is necessary to serve people well. But don’t look at that guys back-rash. Some things you just can’t unsee.

Great Volunteers Follow Jesus

Worship teams, let’s talk. You’d think that since we make a pastor go through a rigorous 6 month interview process, we’d at least try to make sure that the drummer on stage believes in Jesus. As they say in the streets (because that’s where I’m from, yo), you gotta smoke what you’re selling.

Using leadership positions for evangelism in the church is like missionary dating in high school. Sure, there’s always a chance that your boyfriend Kirk might hear God’s Word while trying to make out with you at youth group, but often, it does more harm than good. Just because you can sing or play the guitar really well doesn’t mean that you should be allowed to lead worshipers in worship. Whether it is teaching a Bible class or leading worship, make sure your leaders have a growing relationship with Jesus before putting them up front for your congregation to take cues from.

Great Volunteers Have Some Affinity for the Ministry

There are certain intangibles that are required that you can sometimes just “feel” about certain volunteers; however, there has to also be a baseline standard of talent required. You gotta be able to play the chords, man. Some churches honestly do expect way too much perfection out of leaders, which sends the message of “get to professional status and then you can serve Jesus.” This is not Biblical.

At the same time, neither can we simply allow those who are not gifted for the task in question to become a distraction or deterrent for lost people to come in. Bad teachers shouldn’t teach and those who can’t work a microwave shouldn’t run sound. It is OK to have minimum requirements, as long as we don’t rob ourselves of discipleship opportunities by setting the entry bar too high. Also, sometimes a high bar can still be the wrong bar.

There are probably many other qualities of a great volunteer that I didn’t mention. For instance, I didn’t talk about responsibility, age-appropriateness, or the ability to be on time, but these are important as well. What else do you think makes a great volunteer?

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Showing 4 comments
  • Mike Geppert

    Finally an article I feel qualified to comment on!
    1) I have to say vetted for the job they are doing? The church is about sinners while you wouldn’t want people doing certain jobs there are other jobs they should be able to do.

    2) my experience playing on team sports taught me about playing on a team.
    I couldn’t believe how many people don’t know how to play on a team. Was one of the biggest eye openers for me. So yes coachable big deal.
    3) I have no social skills! Was that my problem?
    4) Love of People? Not sure what to say about this. Part of me goes back to Chirch is a bunch of sinners. See 1?
    5) this is big! But I am not sure how you measure it? How much do I follow Jesus verses somebody else? I know that in my first year was very different then my 12th year of volunteering…
    I actually think this is more about the ministry then the volunteer.
    6) “some” affinity? Lol. This makes this really fuzzy.
    I have to say that when I started at fellow ship I was expecting to help kids with homework. They made me something called a small group leader. If I knew what that was at first I would not have volunteered.
    Hope this helps. :-).

    • Seth Muse


      Thanks for your input! You’re one of those I can say I have been privileged to work with. I’m a little confused about your comments, though. I’m writing for pastors and leaders so that they can know not only what to look for in a volunteer, but how to train and lead people into becoming great volunteers. Did you get that from the post?

      Either way, you’ve got social skills that pay the billz, so no worries there! As always, thanks for reading man!

  • Kenny

    Great volunteers agree with your vision and mission!

    • Seth Muse

      Absolutely! Unfortunately, I’ve seen ministries allow volunteers who have left the church continue serving. I think they mean well to allow it, but I also haven’t seen it stay healthy. Misalignment is usually the reason the volunteer and church part ways. That’s a great addition. Thanks Kenny!

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