3 Things Not to Tell Your Volunteers

3 Things Not to Tell Your Volunteers
July 12, 2016 Bob D'Ambrosio

After 25 years of marriage….I’ve learned what my wife wants to hear me say—and not say. When she gets her hair cut and asks me how she looks, I know she doesn’t want to hear me say, “fine”, even though I think that’s a compliment.

Leading volunteers presents similar communication challenges. What we mean to express may not always be what our volunteers hear.

Avoid these three common expressions when leading volunteers:

“Thanks for helping me.”

Volunteers need constant affirmation and recognition. But often we thank people for how they’ve helped us do ministry rather than thanking them for being a partner in ministry. We’re all in this together. An equipping church values the partnership of pastors and people serving together. Thank your volunteers for the gifts and abilities they share in doing ministry, not what they’re doing for you.

“It’s real simple. Anyone can do it.”

Ever find yourself saying this when trying to recruit someone to serve? What we’re actually communicating is that the job is so lame any dummy can do it. Not a real motivator for someone to step forward. “Ah, no thanks….if anyone can do it, find someone else.” Invite people to serve in a task that is a special match for their unique gifts and passion.

“This won’t take much time.”

We all have the same amount of time. When we minimize a volunteer’s time commitment to a task or project we communicate that the job doesn’t have much value. What may take us an hour may require much more time from a person who’s never done the task before. Be upfront in the estimated time commitment. This lets volunteers know if they can work it into their current schedule.




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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