Convincing people to give their time and energy away for free isn't always an easy task. Once you do have them on the team, though, you definitely want to avoid actions that push them away.

Here are five things I've seen repel volunteers, along with a few simple ways to retain volunteers and help them grow as members of their local church.

1. Little, if any, preparation

Let's say Church ABC staff member gets 20 volunteers to show up Saturday morning for a church beautification project. When the volunteers arrive, however, he doesn't have a list of projects to complete or enough supplies for each.

An inefficient, wasted Saturday morning will frustrate even the most dedicated volunteer.

Instead, make sure you have all the paintbrushes, paint, gloves, shovels, mulch, water, snacks and other supplies needed for the day. Estimate how many people you need for each project, then divide up your volunteers into teams with one staff member or volunteer leader leading each group.

2. Relying on the same people for everything

It's tempting to always call on the same, super-reliable volunteers. The problem with that approach is two-fold: First, you’ll wear out those volunteers, and they’ll eventually stop serving. Two, you won’t get more volunteers engaged in ministry, which robs them of the opportunity to grow and your church the benefit of their perspective.

It requires a disciplined, consistent effort on your part to have one-on-one conversations and invite people to serve in ways that best align with their talent and personality. However, that effort will help you build a volunteer team large enough to ensure you’re not calling on the same people every time.

3. Lack of a big-picture "why"

Personally, I think God hardwired each of us to crave purpose. Jesus set out a huge vision for His disciples when he told them to "go therefore and make disciples of all the nations ..." in Matthew 28:19. He communicated why telling people about Him was important throughout His ministry.

Volunteers want to know why what you've asked them to do is important. Even seemingly ordinary tasks like serving coffee or restocking tithe envelopes in the sanctuary are connected to the bigger picture. Connect those dots for your volunteers and help them understand how they're contributing to the vision of their church.

4. Not leveraging their skills

We should all be willing to roll up our sleeves and do whatever tasks are needed to reach people for the Gospel. At the same time, it doesn’t make sense to not leverage the talents God has entrusted to your volunteers.

If you have a volunteer who's a doctor, then why not ask her to be put on a list of people to contact if there's a medical need during service? If a volunteer works in human resources, you might ask him to review your staff policy manual.

Tap into the skills and talents of your volunteers.

5. Lack of growth opportunities

Talk with volunteers periodically and find out if they're interested in taking on a different role. If you see leadership potential in a volunteer, give that person responsibility for a small team or project and see how he handles it.

Give volunteers a chance to take on aspects of ministry without a staff member directing their every move. Sure, it's wise to provide direction and check in with them, but give them room to grow.

Not all volunteers will want this opportunity, but others may get bored without it. Find out who's who and adjust accordingly.