Motivating volunteer workers is one of the most significant challenges for church leaders. Despite the presence of a serving spirit among church workers, it is often difficult to adequately fire their enthusiasm, participation and commitment.

Misunderstanding the true nature of motivation is a key part of the problem. Motivation cannot be turned on and off at will like a faucet. The trouble with this on-again, off-again approach is that it overlooks the pivotal role of relationship building. It simply is not possible to motivate people in an enduring way if you have not built a close relationship with them.


Because Jesus was the master relationship builder. He was the master motivator. He should be the Christian’s model for motivating others. Consider how He influenced His disciples:


Instead of asking, "How can I motivate the members of my ministry?" the church leader should ask, "How can I build a closer spiritual relationship with my ministry team members?" This calls for a relationship-building life-style.

This motivating life-style is described in the following dozen guidelines for building relationships with ministry members:

1. Determine a vision and mission for your ministry. Decide whether the ministry is needed and wanted by the church. If so, will it be supported?

2. Hold a personal recruiting meeting. One on one, without high pressure, find out whether each person feels called to serve, is competent, and has the time necessary to devote to this ministry.

3. Create a niche (special place) for each member of the ministry.

4. Carefully develop and communicate job descriptions for each team member. Specifically, this should include a particular job, approach, length of service, names of other team members, expected performance, and ways to evaluate themselves.

5. Promote success by equipping and training the team members. Help them understand through teaching and demonstration (explicit example) how they can do a good job.

6. Let team members personally participate in running the ministry. Consult with them when making decisions, remain open-minded and willing to change, help them see the ministry as their own, and put them before their performance.

7. Listen, Listen, Listen! Be alert to and create opportunities for listening. Let others "unload" on you before you "unload" on them.

8. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Periodically remind people of the ministry’s vision, goals, prayers. Keep members up-to-date on ministry progress, activities, answered prayers, etc. Helm them share personal Christian testimonies, feelings about ministry events, personal joys and frustrations, and love for one another. Get feedback from team members on what they are doing and accomplishing in the ministry. Pray individually and as a team regularly.

9. Encourage and praise team members individually and as a group, for what they do or try to do, and for who each person is. Encourage and praise through listening, compliments, recognition, fellowship, follow-up, humor, and prayer.

10. Minimize the demands you make on team members. Keep time and meeting demands reasonable. Respect the fact that there are many claims on their "free" time.

11. Hold team members accountable for performance. Goals and deadlines must be set, progress reports made, and follow-up taken. Any criticism of team member performance should center on their actions, not on them personally.

12. Pray, pray, pray!

The single best motivator of all is the Holy Spirit. Strive to be the kind of person God wants you to be,
and He will surely bless your efforts. Remember, God is more concerned with the worker than the work he does. Motivating others is a matter of one’s own spiritual development. It is letting God minister to the spiritual needs of others through you that encourages and frees others to be all God enables them to be.