Volunteers and lay workers make a substantial contribution to the achievement of the church mandate.  Some serve as pastors or personal assistants to pastors on a voluntary basis. Others sing in the choir, play musical instruments or teach children.  Still, others control traffic and participate in the protocol team without any form of payment.  In reality, volunteers carry out most of the church activities.

Volunteering is an activity done or a service provided willingly by people without financial reward. The intention is to promote a cause or help someone.  The no-cost aspect of the volunteering posits a major challenge in the management and administration of volunteers. Cnaan and Cascio (1999) argued that volunteers can be difficult to manage because they are not liable to serious sanctions. Furthermore, it is usually presumed that they do not need to be encouraged since they are intrinsically motivated (Kenyatta, 2014). However, considering that volunteers do not receive personal tangible gains such as salary, leaders need to find other ways of motivating them to play their role (Fogarty, 2016).

Simple ways of motivating volunteers

  • Adopt an appropriate leadership style. Leadership styles that promote intrinsic motivation are relevant in leading volunteers. Servant and transformational leadership styles motivate followers through inspiration and would be appropriate in leading volunteers.  On its part, servant leadership advocates the servant as a leader with the feeling of wanting to serve preceding aspiration to lead (Fogarty, 2016). Transformational leadership involves leaders and followers raising one another to higher levels of morality and motivation (Burns, 1978). While servant leaders evoke trust in volunteers, transformational leaders induce volunteer commitment and involvement.
  • Clarify the vision, mission, and expectations. It is important that lay workers and volunteers understand clearly the vision and mission of the church. Furthermore, it is useful to clearly state the church’s expectations of them. This provides a sense of direction and an opportunity to align own expectations with the church’s vision. In some instances, it might be necessary to have them sign some form of commitment.
  • Invest in the development of volunteers. I know a pastor who had a training session every Saturday morning for all leaders and workers in the church. The volunteers were motivated by the acquired knowledge and experienced transformation. Training is important where volunteers contribute in an area outside their line of career or business.  Simmons and Catoh (2013) noted that training volunteers is important in ensuring they feel confident in their abilities. Regularly identify training needs and follow that with relevant and quality training.
  • Invest in the wellbeing of volunteers and a favorable working environment. People love to be celebrated and appreciated for contribution and effort made. Celebrating volunteers, encouraging and affirming motivates volunteers. Appreciate their contribution and participation.  After all, volunteers are human beings who face challenges of life which could compromise their contribution.


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