As a church grows, the need for more "hands to the plow" increases as well. Unless your leadership team decides to hire more people, you'll need volunteers you can trust with more complex tasks. This could include leading teams of other volunteers or managing an area on Sunday that staff members have typically handled.

To prevent miscommunication and frustration for staff and volunteers, here are four keys to delegation success:

1. Choose wisely

Delegate tasks or responsibility based on how well you know a particular volunteer.

  • How long has this person served at the church?
  • What work experience does this person have that's relevant to the task at hand?
  • Is this person consistent in serving and arriving on time?

If these questions check out, then try delegating something small initially. As a volunteer demonstrates reliability and a dedication to doing each task with excellence, then delegate more complex responsibilities.

2. Explain what a "win" looks like

Asking a volunteer to "make sure the coffee bar is cleaned up and closed out properly on Sunday afternoon" isn't sufficient information.

Provide written and verbal directions on what "cleaned up" and "closed out properly" truly mean. Have the volunteer shadow you 1-2 Sundays to see how you perform these tasks.

3. Provide support and encouragement

Delegation doesn't mean you're completely hands-off with a particular task. Instead, be close by the first few times your volunteer is performing the task.

Also, make sure she knows you expect questions early on (and that this is OK). Provide feedback as you see how she's doing. Offer tips on how to make aspects of the task easier and point out what she's doing really well.

4. Invite feedback

You may have a volunteer who is a professor at a local college or a project manager who's used to managing 20 team members. They have a different perspective and skill set you may not have on staff. That can be a huge help as they offer tips and ideas to make certain tasks easier to accomplish.

Ask for their insights, listen to their input, and leverage their knowledge when possible.

Remember: Delegating tasks to volunteers isn't solely about getting work done. While that's a benefit, our focus should be on equipping them "for the work of ministry." Working with volunteers is part of discipleship. You're teaming up with your brothers and sisters in Christ to serve His church and spread the Gospel.