Struggling to find volunteers at church?  

Church life is often organized around programs and events. These activities meet a need in the church and the greater community.  However, there is a very real issue of limited resources.  Money, time and people. 

As a result, the church leans heavily on volunteer teams.  The call for people to help and serve in programs never seems to end.  However, as leaders, we want to prevent burnout with our teams so that they can remain healthy and have longevity in service.   

As leaders, we want to be responsible for the care of our people, but balance the needs to function as the church.   

In this video, we are about going to be exploring what is burnout and how to prevent it in your teams.



As an industry heavily focused on serving and caring for others, Churches need to be aware of burnout, why it happens and what you can do to prevent it in your teams.

Burnout is comprised of 3 components or factors:

1. Hopelessness, or the thought that nothing is ever going to change

2. Helplessness – feelings that you have no control of your own circumstances

3. Prolonged high levels of stress. Hopelessness or the belief that things are going to be this way forever. That nothing is going to change.


We can begin to lose hope when we feel like the deadlines, demand on our time or the needs that we are supporting are never-ending.

Persistent needs and constant demands quickly begin to feel like you are in a hamster wheel and you are just trying to keep up. Thoughts of hopelessness creep-in and soon turn into beliefs that nothing will ever change. These may come out as thoughts and feelings of being stuck, trapped, overwhelmed, and obligation.

It is vital that team members have the opportunities to rest and step away from the constant deadlines and demands. Establishing clear communicating about what is coming and how the team and program is adapting and changing provide hope so people don’t become stuck in Hopelessness.


Helplessness is all about lack of control and the feeling of powerlessness with the inability to say No.

Have you ever been stuck in a situation and you feel like you can’t say no? You politely caring on with the task , but inside are resentful and frustrated. Completing the work because you have to not because you want to.

In teams, frustration grows when they are unable to contribute creatively to a project and they are just handed a list of simple tasks to do. Engaging your team and sincerely asking for input and actually moving forward with some of their ideas provides a sense of ownership and collaboration. No one likes to be micromanaged. People want to be part of something bigger than themselves.


Having high levels of prolonged stress is commonly known to be dangerous to the body.

Studies have shown that stress can cause harm to blood pressure, the immune system and even our mental health.  It’s also important to recognize that God created us with different giftings and interests. You can not be all things to all people. That is just not how God made you Moses is a great example of that.

In Exodus 18 Moses was operating outside of his calling and Jethro, his father-in-law told him to delegate these tasks to other leaders and go back to the role God called him to be. Because if he stayed in that role he would wear himself out. Moses was sitting as a judge for the people.

This was a necessary role and Moses was likely good at the job, but it was not what he was supposed to do. Sitting as Judge was not the role God called him to do.

So, when you are recruiting volunteers, be aware that they may not be called to serve in that area even though they are good at it.

Have you done something that seemed really looked easy on the outside but it was very stressful for you? Or something that appeared to be overwhelming for others but it was easy for you? God doesn’t gift us the same and so what causes stress if different for each person.

Being asked to fill a role or task that volunteer isn’t gifted or called to can be very stressful. Even though from the outside it doesn’t seem like a stressful work.

Prevent prolonged high levels of stress by regularly check-in with teams about the role they are filling and if they are enjoying the work. Perhaps they want to shift or change tasks. Retraining and on-boarding volunteers can be very time consuming; however; it is more costly to burnout a volunteer so they no longer wish to serve in any capacity.


We want to prevent burnout with our teams so that they can remain healthy and have longevity in ministry.

For this we need to consider 3 areas.

Prevent Hopelessness through providing times of rest, establishing milestones on projects and communicating vision and direction for the team.

Avoid helplessness by providing opportunities for input into the work that people are doing and creating a culture of healthy boundaries, with permissions to saying no.

Managing stress by recognizing when work is hard and validating its impacts, allowing people to work in areas that they are gifted in, it’s not just about recruiting warm bodies.