Here’s yet another excerpt from 21st Century Strategies for Church Growth.

One of the missing ingredients in today’s church is accountability. As church leaders, we are often so grateful to have volunteers who serve that we’re willing to overlook poor attitudes, bad behavior, and even a lack of integrity. In other words, we settle for what we can get.

The consequences of settling are many. For one, we often discover that we can’t count on those who volunteer. Volunteers tend to give from their excess, that is, they don’t give what they can afford to give, they give what’s convenient to give. If Aunt Bessy shows from Denver for the weekend, the volunteer may or may not show up … and if it slipped their minds until the last minute that they wouldn’t be at church to tend the nursery, then it’s “Gee I’m sorry.”

Another result from settling is that ministry rarely gets much better than mediocre. Too often volunteers are willing to do “good enough” but excellence is simply too much to expect. “Hey, I’m a volunteer” as if that should let them off the hook for their lack of integrity. 

The bottom line is this: Ministries are too important to be left in the hands of volunteers; instead, they must operate under the committed leadership of disciples of Jesus Christ. Committed disciples of Jesus Christ take on a ministry because they are called to it. They have passion for it. They don’t settle for “good enough,” but press themselves and their teams towards excellence. They let their Yes! be yes, and when they say No! it means no – yes never means “I’d like to,” “I plan to,” or “I hope to.” Faithfulness is their value and integrity is their watchword. They don’t just do ministry; they are ministers.

To reach the level of excellence demanded by faithful ministry, these ministers demand evaluations and accountability. They want to know how they’re doing and especially how their ministry is performing. They have a mission and a vision for their ministry – and they’re committed to reaching that vision. So they set goals for their ministry – “My adult Sunday school class will grow by 50 percent this year; and guests to our class will not only be welcomed, but connected with those in the class.” And then they take action steps to bring their vision into reality.

This isn’t just an idealist’s pipedream. It’s a reality in churches plagued with growth. However, the only time any of the above happens is when:

(1) The church’s staff and leadership take seriously the recruiting of passionate, committed, well-behaved disciples of Jesus Christ as outlined in Recommendation 1, and especially in 1.4.

(2) The ministry leaders are supported with regular one-on-one coaching, goal setting, and evaluative accountability on their results – not just on attempts. In the words of Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Question: What are some practical ways to make sure volunteer ministers act reliably as they would if they were paid church employees? Share your ideas in the Comments section below.