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How to Deal with a Burnt Out Volunteer

We’ve all burnt out before. We hit a wall and simply don’t want to – or can’t – go in. Here are three ways to help you love and care for a volunteer that’s feeling burned out.

Remind Them That What They Do Matters

Your volunteers need to know that what they do matters. They need to be reminded that what they do matters.

Stories are the best way to remind them. Tell them about the 1st grader that decided to follow Jesus last week. Tell them about the 4th grader that’s getting baptized. Tell them about sweet conversations other volunteers have had with their children. Tell them about the prayers that have been prayed throughout your ministry. Don’t let a Sunday pass without reminding them that they are making an eternal difference in the lives of the children they serve.

Give Them Breaks

Volunteers need breaks – particularly your weekly volunteers.

I know of one church that lets their weekly volunteers off for the entire summer. I know that might sound crazy, but it benefits both the volunteers and the ministry. The volunteers get a couple of months to recharge. The ministry gets to bring others in.

They ask people in the church (who don’t currently serve in children’s ministry) to commit to serving just three Sundays over the course of the summer. People who would have never considered serving in children’s ministry take on what feels like a manageable commitment. Inevitably, a number of these fill-in volunteers find that they love children’s ministry, and they commit to serving on a regular basis. The come out of every summer with more volunteers than when they started and the volunteers that just had three months off come back energized and ready to jump back in.

I don’t know what will work best for your church. But give your volunteers time off. I promise it will be good for them and good for you.

Recognize Your Volunteers

It is so easy to get caught up in the details of pulling off a weekend service. Volunteers can (unintentionally) become just another detail to be managed. But – and I know I’m stating the obvious here – your volunteers are people who want to know that they are loved and valued by their leader.

So, take time to recognize them. Commit to writing a note or sending an email to a couple of volunteers every week letting them know why you appreciate having them on your team. Be as specific as you can. If they’re the type that appreciates public recognition, say a couple words about them this Sunday at your team huddle. If they’re the type that prefers to fly under the radar, give them kind and encouraging words in private.

But make sure you take the time to recognize their contribution to your ministry. I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to burn out too quickly when I feel like I’m making a difference.

Your volunteers are essential to your ministry. You can’t do it without them. Take care of them as faithfully as you take care of the children in your ministry.



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