Rethinking Volunteerism in the Church

What if we are using the wrong word to descbribe those who serve?

Dr. McKay Caston
7 min readSep 27, 2019


A Pastoral Leadership Challenge

One of the primary challenges that leaders in the church is staffing ministries with volunteers.

When each believer exercises his or her unique gifts, the church works like a body , with hands, feet, eyes, ears functioning together as one unit to accomplish a goal.

When those with gifts decline to use them, the church becomes disabled and starts to struggle.

An analysis of the problem often reveals that 10–20% of the body is doing 80–90% of the work to overcompensate for those parts that are not willing to contribute.

Eventually, people who are serving in ministry burn out and church leaders much continually plead for more volunteers.

That might be the problem. Not letting folks know what ministry opportunities are available… but calling those who serve, volunteers.

The Problem of Volunteerism

By definition, a volunteer has the option to serve or not to serve. That is how things work in a volunteer organization.

But the church is not a volunteer organization governed by staff.

The church is a missional community governed by a King. Those called out from the world into the community are not asked be part-time participants in the King’s kingdom but are expected to be full-time laborers in the Kingdom, representing the King in the church and in the world — full-time — regardless of vocation.

My vocation is a teaching pastor. Yours may be as a mother or an accountant or small business owner. Your vocational focus may be in nursing or physical therapy. You may be an Army Ranger, a teacher, an artist, or a musician.

Whatever your vocation, you live and breath as a representative of the King. Our Sunday ministry teams are just a small part of the overall role you play in the Kingdom.

When a King calls someone into his service, that someone serves. The King does not plead for volunteers. He gives the called their marching orders and expects them to take up their…



Dr. McKay Caston

I create resources to help folks tether their lives to the cross of the risen and reigning Jesus |