Ryan Wakefield Church Marketing University

Ryan is the founder of Church Marketing University, where he helps churches all over the world get more visitors each week. He and his wife, Amy, and daughter, Katelyn, are a part of Summit Park Church in Kansas City, Missouri.  Ryan has many years of experie... read more

Building a Great Volunteer Team

Volunteers are a vital aspect of building a church. With this comes the pressure of finding the right volunteers, training them up, and maintaining a solid team.

We believe that your volunteer ministry can consistently grow and succeed. We want to see your abilities enhanced to lead great team meetings, build effective social media teams, and much more.

Here are some strategies to think through as you set out to build a growing volunteer team:

Set clear expectations for your team.

The first thing someone will ask you when you speak to them about joining your team is ‘What’s involved?’ so start by establishing what players need to be on your team and what their responsibilities will be.

Setting clear expectations before recruiting will give you clarity on whether that person will be a fit.

*One of your expectations should be that they will learn to recruit new team members.

Find the right people to join your team.

Recruiting volunteers can often seem like a daunting task. We have outlined some of the key aspects of volunteer recruitment so that you can boost your confidence when it comes to your team.

Some of the keys to effective volunteer recruitment are:

  • Looking for people who bring new skills to the table
  • Allowing a trial run for volunteers to ensure that this is the right fit for them, as well as the church
  • The people who are most likely to be interested in serving are the people who have been impacted by that area in ministry

Have team meetings on purpose.

Most of the team members who leave teams love what they do on the team, but not what’s required of them outside that responsibility. If you’re having frequent ‘mandatory’ meetings that aren’t purposeful, this could be enough to drive great team members away.

Instead, try:

  • Online training
  • Videos people can watch on their own time
  • Make in-person meetings optional, but worth talking about, so people who opted out feel like they won’t want to miss the next one.

Establish team communications outside of a face-to-face meeting.

Have a 3-sentence communication that needs to be sent to your team? Try a text message, an email, or create a Facebook group for your team members.

This is a great way to encourage your team, coach them, and offer and invite feedback while respecting their schedules and allowing them to hear from you at their convenience.

Train intentionally.

Too many times we have a new team member come in for training and give them too much or not enough information. They may leave a training session feeling unequipped or inadequate and discouraged from being part of the team.

  • Create a clear system for training with checklists of the things they need to learn.
  • Have a checklist a new team member can complete for learning every step of their position, and walk through your pre-service and post-service checklists together. Let them know that each time they serve, they will use these checklists to be sure everything has been completed to get ready for service.

Checklists ensure every new team member is trained in the same way.

Talk about your church’s core values often.

Why are we here and doing what we’re doing?
How does each step of what we do as a team play into the big picture of our church?
How can we intentionally live out each step of our core values?

Take a moment at every team meeting, email, and pre-service run-through to talk about how you’ll live out your core values as a team today.

Create a system of feedback.

Feedback is an important part of growing together as a team, whether you oversee the team, or you’re a team player looking to move into team leadership. Create an expectation that your team will receive feedback and an open door for them to give feedback. Make it a regular part of what you do to open that door, even if there isn’t any feedback. Often the resistance to giving feedback isn’t the actual feedback, but the awkwardness of trying to start that conversation.

Feedback is valuable and this cycle gives you the opportunity to encourage your team, and also coach or correct them while helping them see that you are open to opportunities to grow.

Encourage your team to recruit.

Talk about the results you’ve seen as a team, the positive feedback you’ve gotten from people that your team has served, and your team’s growth potential.

Underline that this can’t be done at your current size, and remind people of the simplicity of your training structure checklists.

Publicly celebrate new team recruits.

Don’t just celebrate the recruit, but celebrate the person that recruited and trained them. Make this part of your team conversation an exciting part of being on your team.


Volunteers are a fundamental, integral part of every successful church. We want to provide you with resources to make all of this possible, which is why we created the Building a Volunteer Team that Grows Itself Ebook. It’s a step-by-step guide by expert Adam McLaughlin.