building a team

Creating a Thriving Team of Volunteers: Key Strategies for Success

I recently received a call from one of my leaders, informing me that he wouldn't be able to lead his small group of middle school guys for a few weeks. This was due to a work project and his responsibility to care for an elderly relative, making the Wednesday night commitment overwhelming. As the leader of this ministry, I was sad for the teens to lose their leader for a few weeks, but I wasn't concerned. This small group leader had reached out to his co-leaders and was ready to connect with parents. He knew exactly what to do.

There is nothing better than working with a competent and confident team. Unfortunately, that doesn't come naturally. Building a dynamic team of volunteers or equipping your staff to perform at a high level takes practice and investment. If you want your team of leaders to thrive, you have to make sure you provide:


What do you want them to do? Whether leading a team of volunteers or paid staff, they must have clarity around their purpose. Having clarity around your purpose not only involves a list of tasks but also a vision of why the role matters.

The best way to provide clarity is with a job description. It doesn't matter the level of involvement; a job description should include:

  • A list of responsibilities
  • Required skills
  • Reporting structure
  • Expected outcomes when duties are performed
  • Purpose statement

It's also important to regularly sit down with the people you lead to review their roles and responsibilities. When possible, revisit the vision and mission of your ministry and parish. The more clarity people have around what you want them to do and what God is calling them to do is essential to their productivity.


We all want to belong, and no one wants to feel isolated in what they do. When you are serving in ministry, it's so much better when you have others to celebrate your accomplishments and work with you through challenges. As a ministry leader, forming a community amongst your team is critical, and it does not have to be complicated.

Try to check in with each member of your team regularly. Your check-in can be an email, text message, or sitting down for a cup of coffee. Make sure throughout the year you are leading them through team-building activities, and above all else, pray together as much as possible.

When people feel like they belong to a community, they are more likely to stick around because serving is more than getting a job done. People will want to show up because they are surrounded by people who see, know, and love them.


Leaders grow other leaders. Too often we put people in roles and never give them the proper resources to succeed. While you can give your team adequate content and tools to get the job done, it's not sufficient on its own.

Your team needs spiritual formation to strengthen their trust in God, which will help them overcome the challenges they face. The people you lead need to grow in their knowledge of their faith so that they can figure out new ways to teach and share it. Helping your team grow pastorally will help them learn new trends in doing ministry. And giving them the skillset to manage time, relationships, and communication will help them thrive as leaders.

Formation does take a financial and time investment, but it produces more confident and competent leaders. Your team won't be afraid or resist change. They'll be ready to tackle anything that comes their way.

If you want your volunteers to succeed, ensure they understand what they are doing and why it matters. Connect them with other leaders to find joy in their work, and help them grow in their faith journey. Properly equipping your team leads to increased productivity and supports the mission God has provided for the faithful.

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