How to Determine Whether You Manage or Empower Your Volunteers

How to Determine Whether You Manage or Empower Your Volunteers
January 12, 2017 Bob D'Ambrosio

Do you empower volunteers to serve in ministry? Or do you manage them? For many professionally trained leaders, the ministry model has been to recruit, place, and manage. And the temptation is to over-manage because, well, we’re professionally trained—and our volunteers are not.

Equipping leaders empower people to develop their gifting and find a ministry where they can serve. Emperor-style leaders see themselves as the primary ministry source and manage their volunteers in task-only roles.

What is your style? Ask yourself how much the following statements describe you:

  • -I realize my ministry is not about me or my success.
  • -I lead by serving and supporting others.
  • -I give authority to team members to make decisions in their individual areas of expertise.
  • -I determine ministry placement of team members according to their unique design and gifting.
  • -I could not be effective without other around me using their spiritual gifts and abilities.
  • -I am more concerned about the multiplication of ministry than about my control over things.
  • -I have a positive and proactive response to change.
  • -When there is failure, I look at myself and take responsibility.
  • -I regularly give feedback to those with whom I serve.
  • -I confront issues that I know will be harmful to my team.

If most of these statements describe you, most of the time, then you are a leader who empowers people to serve. If these statements don’t match your leadership style, you may be hovering too close to allow people to fully engage in ministry.

Identify areas in which you can empower more people in ministry, and make that your resolution for the new year!


[Editor’s Note: Empowering volunteers will be discussed in the training, “Building an Equipping Church” at Group Publishing, Loveland, Colorado October 4-6, 2017. For more information, or to register click here.]

Bob D’Ambrosio is a 25-year veteran of frontline church ministry and now serves with Group’s content solutions team. He’s a trainer for volunteer equipping, a Refresh the Church blogger, and a ministry coach for Group U. Bob is a contributing author and general editor of the E4:12 Bible Study Series Better Together: Connecting to God and Others and Leading Out: Connecting People to Purpose.


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