Give Your Volunteers Autonomy

Wayne Stocks —  July 18, 2011

autonomyWelcome back to our series on things your volunteers want to know.  We are knee deep in issues your volunteers want you to know in the category of passion.  So far, we have covered:

    1. Your Volunteers Are Passionate About What They Do!
    2. Your Volunteers Want You To Use Their Passion!
    3. Share Your Vision With Your Volunteers

Today we will look at point number four in the category of passion:

Give Your Volunteers Autonomy

Autonomy is sense of ownership.  You volunteers want to have a sense of ownership of their portion of the children’s ministry.  They respect that you are the leader of the children’s ministry, but if you want it to grow, you just can’t do everything yourself. Give them some autonomy over an area and trust that their passion will help that area to grow. There is nothing quicker to sap passion out of a person than micro-management. If you try to run every detail of everything by yourself, the size of your ministry will always be limited to what you alone can get done. If you take a group of passionate people and give them autonomy over their own areas with some oversight from you, you will be amazed at how God can work through that to explode your ministry both in quantity and depth.

Give your volunteers ownership of what they are doing. Give them responsibility, but make sure you give them authority to go along with that responsibility. Responsibility without authority is like mashed potatoes without gravy. It tastes good, and it can even be enjoyable, but it will never reach its full potential. There are so many children’s pastors out there who, in the name of making it “easy” for their volunteers, don’t allow those volunteers any input to what they are teaching or doing with the kids. Let them take over that part of the process, and watch them take ownership of the ministry.  When you make it too easy, and too cookie cutter, you don’t give them the chance to have a vested interest in what they are teaching.  So, whatever it is – give them the large group or small group segment of your lesson, and let them role with it.  Let them plan and entire lesson or take over control of a service.  Sit back, and watch God work through your volunteers.

Come back next time for the final installment in the category of passion.  From there, we will move on to issues related to Service, Development, Relationship and Resources.

Wayne Stocks

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Wayne is married to a wonderful woman and has four kids whom God uses to teach him on an almost daily basis. He is blessed to volunteer in a wonderful children's ministry at New Life Church Gahanna. He established Kidmin1124 for those who give their time to kids and feel passionately about children's ministry. When he isn't working on Kidmin1124, he maintains another blog at and contributes articles on a regular basis to

2 responses to Give Your Volunteers Autonomy

  1. Great post. As a paid “professional” I can make the box to small for my volunteers. I need to get better at releasing them to to ministry.

  2. The hardest part for me is letting something go. But I know that (esp from reading Dale Burke’s “Less Is More Leadership”) that someone else doing something 80% as good as me is better than me continuing to do it (unless it’s a core part of who I am).

    Here’s another motto I’ve heard and lived by: “Do what only you can do.”

    We do need to develop, equip, and release leaders in our churches: