Even in its simplest form, churches need to get certain tasks accomplished. Whether it’s greeting people warmly, setting up chairs, providing food, or any number of other practical matters, you need volunteers. The church is a volunteer-based organization. We all need volunteers, our ministry depends on them. But if church volunteers feel used, they will burn out quickly. To keep that from happening, let’s shift the question to: How can I empower people to share their gifts and passions? 


A Fresh Take on Volunteers

Most people—for a short period of time—can do a job they find distasteful if they consider it necessary. But when they are placed in a job they enjoy—a job that makes use of their gifts and passions, they’re not counting the hours until they can be done. 

In so many cases, the focus seems to be that the people are there to serve the needs of the church rather than vice versa. Instead of filling slots with people regardless of gifting, let’s turn it around and begin with the people themselves. In many cases, we seem to be abandoning our call to help people discover and develop their spiritual gifts.

When people are placed in a job they enjoy—a job that makes use of their gifts and passions, they’re not counting the hours until they can be done. Share on X

The Volunteers Puzzle

Imagine a jigsaw puzzle. Our initial job of visioncasting is to display a clear picture—like the one on the box—that shows the vision for what the Kingdom of God is supposed to look like. This is the Kingdom in all of its fullness, much larger and broader than any one local church.

As people look at that beautiful vision, where do they see themselves? You may be currently working on a green area in a corner. It can be tempted to take a new person—a piece of the puzzle—and try to jam them into that area whether they fit or not. After all, you really need help there. But that’s not where they fit. They are an orange piece that would fit great closer to the center, but will do a poor job trying to fill out the green space in the corner.

You, as the person trying to put together the puzzle, don’t immediately know where all the pieces fit. You need to remain open to discovering new things as you go. “Oh, that’s what those orange pieces are supposed to be a part of!”

Our calling is to help each piece of the puzzle find exactly where they are designed to fit. What we need to be doing is creating a system for the discovery of spiritual gifts, the trial and error of placement close to where it seems a person would fit well, and a willingness to make changes and corrections along the way, then help them live out their unique calling.


For more on how people’s real lives, passions, gifts, and everyday struggles interact with their ministry roles, check out Making Life Count. This book unpacks how people serving in the right roles not only helps the church and helps others… but also how it helps the people themselves grow stronger in their faith and calling.

The Calling: Focused Ministry Coaching Guide and Storyboard provides you with a clear process to help people get involved in effective, focused ministry. With a basic structure for the stages of ministry involvement in hand, plus help discovering the right questions to ask, you’ll find you are better prepared to move people forward into the kind of ministry God is calling them toward.

Photo by Anna Earl on Unsplash