Building A Dynamic Team Of Volunteers

Why We Struggle To Build A Team Of Volunteers

People showed up, but I often felt unsupported. After delving into middle and high small groups for about six months, I had successfully recruited enough leaders. However, it didn't feel cohesive. Volunteers came to complete their tasks and then left, showing little inclination to get more involved. Sometimes, it felt like managing volunteers was more taxing than working alone.

In some ways, that sentiment rings true. When I handle things independently, they're executed my way. Flying solo eliminates drama, concerns about punctuality, and above all, disappointments. But we all recognize that going solo is a one-way ticket to burnout. God calls us to collaborate, and while fostering a team can be arduous, the rewards are profound. So, why is it so challenging?


How deeply do you trust your team? It's a tricky question. Many of those we serve alongside are familiar faces, and some are even close friends. But, can you rely on them to deliver results up to your standards? If the answer is no, delegation becomes challenging, hindering team growth.

Building trust takes time. Begin with minor tasks that have minimal consequences if overlooked. Use these moments as stepping stones, gradually giving team members more substantial responsibilities. Trust often blossoms when team members consistently demonstrate their commitment and capability.


Most of us cherish control, but it's a double-edged sword. Overexerting control can deter volunteers and create unpredictabilities. Nevertheless, delegation doesn't imply relinquishing control. By delegating tasks, like ordering event food, team members can narrow their focus, enhancing overall control. Handing over the responsibility of leading a meeting allows you to concentrate on the discussion, providing more focused outcomes without juggling multiple tasks.


Time is invaluable, especially for part-timers. Training might seem like an indulgence with a packed schedule, but it's indispensable. While there's an upfront investment, the long-term benefits are immeasurable.

A well-trained team is more astute and confident. They can handle tasks, allowing you to zero in on priorities. If you're new to training, identify three pivotal topics to boost team performance. Plan training sessions well in advance, syncing them with other essential dates, like your catechetical calendar.


Ministry places you at the heart of human interactions, making conflicts inevitable. Whether it's unmet promises or email misunderstandings, honing your interpersonal skills is vital to support, motivate, and empower your team.

Patrick Lencioni's book, "The Ideal Team Player," offers insights into becoming "people smart". Additionally, consider joining a cohort with Marathon Youth Ministry's MYM U. If budget is a concern, seek a parish member who can mentor and guide you. It's beneficial to have someone who can objectively evaluate your pastoral and professional actions.


Change is inescapable and often challenging. Even when we advocate change, we want it on our terms. Your team may grapple with evolving youth trends or diocesan policies. Engage in regular, collaborative prayers to navigate these changes. Encourage openness to the Holy Spirit's guidance.


In desperation, we might welcome any volunteer. However, an ill-suited member can derail the ministry. This doesn't denote their incompetence but rather a mismatch of roles.

Clear communication of your vision ensures recruits understand their roles. Implement a thorough vetting process, including interviews. Regular check-ins, at least annually, provide invaluable feedback that can refine your ministry approach.

While the road to establishing an effective team may appear daunting, especially with limited resources, the rewards eclipse the challenges. By addressing these areas of concern with trust, control, training, conflict management, adaptability, and volunteer engagement, you lay the foundation for a dynamic ministry team. Harness the strength of collaboration, and together, magnify your impact for His glory.

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