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Are your volunteers impersonal? Even rude to your guests? I don?t need to tell you that?s a serious problem. If a first-time guest?s decision to return is made in the first ten minutes of their visit, an impersonal volunteer will most assuredly keep them from coming back. And since the first ten minutes of your service?parking, greeting, ushering, and often the worship team?is entirely volunteers, your team makes or breaks the whole experience for a guest.[quote]Your volunteer team makes or breaks the whole experience for a guest.[/quote]

So what do you do about consistently impersonal volunteers? I?m not talking about one or two. If you have one or two, either train them better or reposition them to a serving area that doesn?t require interaction with people. But if you have a large contingent of impersonal volunteers, it?s probably an indication of something deeper.


First, it would tell me that you have a culture of impersonality at your church.

I grew up in a third world country as a missionary kid. Every year or so my family would return to the United States from Guatemala. And it was always a bit of a culture shock. The first week of my return to the US would be a harsh adjustment for me. The way I used to act and the way I spoke with my missionary friends in Guatemala was always quite different from how friends behaved and spoke in the States. Eventually, though, I would adapt to their culture. My behavior changed and I used different words.

That?s what a culture does. It creates norms and standards that people?unless they lack emotional intelligence?will adopt for themselves.

A telltale sign that you have an unhealthy culture at your church is when you see personable and friendly people losing those traits after a month of volunteering. It means they?re adopting your church?s culture of impersonality.

Unfortunately, this culture of impersonality also indicates something else to me.


There?s a good chance this culture of impersonality comes from leadership.

Get ready to duck. I?m about to send a spray of verbal bullets your way.

As a leader, you have the number one voice when it comes to setting culture at your church. The problem is, your voice is less verbal and more physical. You can talk about being personable and loving, but if you aren?t modeling that for your staff and volunteers, they?re hearing something else.[quote]As a leader, you have the number one voice when it comes to setting culture at your church.[/quote]

Churches that see volunteers or staff members as cogs in a machine will often treat them the same way. For instance, are you asking your staff to serve unreasonable hours without compensation of gratitude or money? Are you looking to get the most out of people while putting in the least amount?

In a broad sense, children are a reflection of the parents, and staff/volunteers are a reflection of their leadership. Your actions speak far louder than words, and your staff/volunteers will usually treat people as they are treated.[quote]Your staff/volunteers will usually treat people as they are treated.[/quote]

Are you the problem? Maybe not. Maybe it?s another person on your team. Maybe it?s one bad apple that?s spoiling the whole bunch. But strong leadership identifies the bad apple and removes it. Then they reset the culture.

Resetting the Culture

The best way to set the culture at your church is to begin treating people like you want them to treat others. Do you want your volunteers and staff members to go above and beyond the call of duty? What are you doing to go above and beyond the call of duty for them?

  • Are you financially generous with your team?
  • When you assign a task that requires more from them, do you roll up your sleeves and join in?
  • Do your one-on-one meetings start with business? Or do you take time to talk about your team?s personal lives?
  • Do you pray for your team members?not that they would do their jobs well, but that their lives would flourish?
  • If one of your team members were offered their dream job with dream pay, would you be happy for them? Would you send them off with your blessings?

Hold up the mirror to yourself with those questions. See if there are any tweaks you need to make to yourself as a leader.

You have the opportunity to create an amazing culture of hospitality and love at your church. It just requires the initiation on your part?consistently and courageously.


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