Are You Burning Your Volunteers Out?

Volunteers are just as much at risk of burning out as anyone else who is paid. For them stepping away from your ministry is harder than just saying, “I don’t need this.” Serving in the ministry means:

  • Giving back to the church that has given them so much
  • Connecting with friends who serve alongside of them
  • Purpose and fulfillment that they might not find in their jobs

Giving all of that up can fill them with guilt or fear of letting you and the church down. As leaders we have to help our volunteers avoid burnout and that can be done by:


Your volunteers will give up money and time to serve in your ministry. If they are parents they could be paying for a babysitter, many of them are spending gas to drive to your events or picking up dinner along the way. A few of them are buying resources and supplies for their teens and kids. For them the investment should be worth it.

They are also sacrificing time with family and friends to serve alongside of you. Granted we are all called to serve but when we take that too far and demand more than they can give it can get exhausting. Acknowledge the sacrifice by looking at ways to cut the costs.

For example, move your meetings from in person to online saving them on travel. Provide food before they serve so that they don’t have to worry about drive thru. Constantly thank them in person, with cards and other notes of appreciation. They’ll embrace it because they’ll know you value the sacrifice they have made.


Even if you are the best leader possible some of your team won’t want to tell you that they are burning out. That’s why it’s good to create a reporting structure where people are checking in with one another constantly. Recruit managers whose soul purpose is to care for your volunteers.

Those managers should be people-oriented and good at telling you when someone is in need of your care. You want to also make sure that the other volunteers in your ministry know that they can go to them when ever they need something. By partnering people up with accountability you increase the sense of community. The pressure to care for your team won’t fall on you.


There will be times when your volunteers need to take a break, even if they don’t want to. This can be a challenge when the person is struggling, so it’s best to do it up front before they even begin serving.

  • Schedule into their lives seasonal breaks around the holidays and transitioning into different seasons like summer and fall.
  • After they follow a group of students for 3-4 years have them take a sabbatical
  • If you feel like they’ve been working extra hard for you ask them to take two or three weeks away.

They might push back a little, but reassure them that it’s something you do for everyone. Let them know that while you like having them around you want to make sure they are around for the long haul.


Are you volunteers growing as disciples? Like you they can easily confuse their work with their worship. A few ways you can help them avoid this struggle is by:

  • Getting them plugged into a small group or Bible study
  • Organizing a mid year or end of the year retreat for your leaders
  • Setting up prayer time before and after your nights of ministry

Don’t let them get lost in the trenches. Keep them focused on why they got involved.

Keeping your volunteers healthy is a key to a strong ministry. If people enjoy serving alongside of you they’ll enjoy serving for years. Let them know that you care by checking in with them and helping them grow as disciples.

How do you help your volunteers avoid burnout?

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