Volunteers and Other Terrible Things

The worst idea in all Church History is having everyone take their chair and put it on the chair rack themselves.



Churches are always looking for volunteers. My church is not.

I have given up on asking for volunteers. The people most wiling to volunteer are frequently also the people least likely to be able to perform the work for which they volunteered. Volunteers are generally people who think they can do the job. The only people who think they can do a job are people who don’t know what the job is.

Cynicism makes up much of this opinion, but experience has informed it as well.

When we needed more volunteers for our kids’ ministry, we would throw out a general appeal. Terrible people ended up filling those roles. We had pregnant unmarried women, people arrested for drugs and drunk driving, and people who hated every minute of being there and merely agreed due to our guilt-ridden pleas.

I eventually cancelled the kids’ ministry due to the terrible level of “leadership” we were providing kids. I was hoping this would reform the leaders. Nope, they just got mad, left the church, and blamed my pathetic leadership.

Church buildings are maintained by volunteer work. I’m amazed more church buildings have not burned to the ground.

Chair carts are all the proof you need. If you tell a group to fold up their chairs and stack them on the cart; the leaned over, stuck together, facing every which direction mass of chairs, kind of on the cart, that will result will make you cry. Half the cart will be taken up by leaned over chairs, which makes others lean their chairs up against the cart rather than on the cart. This defeats the entire purpose of having a cart for chairs, people.

Don’t throw out general appeals for volunteers. Have people in mind that you think would fulfill the role best and ask them. If there is no one available for that role, then don’t have that role until you get someone ready for it. I know, this will thwart your plans and the semblance of “doing something.” But alas, as I have painfully discovered, doing spiritual work poorly is always worse than doing nothing.

Children’s lives have been ruined because of the terrible example I believe our church put forth in leadership. Spiritually immature leaders destroy people’s souls. Chair carts are one thing, I can take care of that, but people’s souls are real things. Chair carts are merely a visible example of how awful volunteers can be.

When chairs need to be stacked, I put a guy there who knows how chairs need to be stacked. Someone who knows that all the chairs were once on this cart, and when done right, can all be back on this cart. I need that perfectionist, patient guy who gets it and can stack those chairs as people bring them over. Put a guy there who can direct the action, who has the confidence and grace to correct poor work, and can get the job done right.

Your church’s chair cart lets me know how good your church is. Unfortunately, most churches now hire people to take care of such things. I still think giving people opportunity to volunteer is good; it just needs to be done more stringently. Sourcing out volunteer work to paid professionals backfires in its own way.

Pastor, be in charge of your church. Make sure you have the right people doing the right things. If there are no right people, then don’t do those things. Don’t use general appeals for volunteers; your church will burn to the ground figuratively and quite possibly literally.



And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
–1 Timothy 3:10

4 thoughts on “Volunteers and Other Terrible Things

  1. The adage is: “Don’t just stand there, do something.” I often prefer an updated version of this: “Don’t just do something, stand there.”


  2. This post is incredibly good proof of something I’ve been convinced of for decades, which is…

    The modern-day “church” is light-years removed from God’s design, intentions and purposes, and probably is filled with more tares than wheat, including in the pulpit.


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