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Lately, I've been wondering if the volunteers at church are too busy. What do I mean by that? Well, we are a smaller church, which means that many, many people are on the list to do many, many different things. It would not be uncommon for someone to serve in nursery one week, serve coffee and cookies the next week, and sing on praise team or be an usher the week after that. For some people, their name is on a different volunteer schedule every week. Sometimes more than one schedule in a given week.

I've been wondering lately, would it be better for our star cookie bakers to serve us more often in that ministry, and take themselves off the ushering list? Would it be better for most friendly and outgoing people to focus on greeting guests every week, and stop baking cookies (since they don't like baking anyway)?

As I write this, I sort of secretly hope that those leading these ministries at my church ... don't find this post. I'm afraid they will panic if they find out I've suggested people do less at church. But that's not what I'm suggesting. Rather, I'm suggesting that people do more — more of what they are gifted to do, which means more of what it is they do that blesses others and the church the most.

So, your turn. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

What is it like at your church? Are volunteers encouraged to get involved in many ways, or focus on a smaller number of ministries?

What do you think about doing more of one thing, and less of doing everything? Good idea or off the mark?


That sounds exactly like our congregation!  Add in elder/deacon duties to that list, and for some that makes for a very rare Sunday "off."  I think smaller congregations also have a tendency to trust those who are proven 'time-givers' and ask them to do multiple things, rather than risk an unfulfilled duty on someone 'unproven.'

I think the challenge in encouraging people to focus their time-giving on areas where they're gifted is that sometimes a church may have a need and no particular person who feels gifted in that area.  Encouraging people to stretch themselves as volunteers might also help them discover a new area of passion.  At the same time, I think volunteers can quickly become overwhelmed and withdraw if they're continually asked to do something that doesn't fit well with their gifts.

If a congregation as a whole could agree on one method, I think "doing more of one and less of everything" could work  (I remember a Banner article a few years ago about a church that addressed volunteer burnout by having everyone pick one ministry to nourish themselves and one ministry to give of themselves, and call it good).  However, I think the fear is that some members will use that as excuse to not do anything, and the church will be left scrambling again.

This sounds like our church, too, for sure! I myself am an elder besides being a volunteer for sound booth/Power Point duties, coffee, and so on. Not only do we have people on the schedule every week or nearly so, it's very common for people to be on the schedule for more than one "job" on the same Sunday -- kind of running from one thing to another.

Your idea of having people do more of one thing has merit, BUT, there's a downside, too, especially depending on whether there are others doing that same thing. For example, I enjoy doing Power Point duty and at one point said I'd just go ahead and do it every Sunday. Turns out that was not such a good idea because then when I was out of town or couldn't make it to church, no one else had done it in a long time. It is better to have at least a couple/few who take turns so everyone stays up to date on how to do the task, at least when it's one like this, that requires some technical capabilities.

I don't know a good solution. My mind goes more toward looking closely at all the various volunteer jobs there are, and see whether there's a way to pare back without sacrificing the core services of the church.

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