What Amazon Can Teach Church Leaders About Volunteers…

A while back I saw an interesting article in USA Today about Amazon and how they are paying their employees up to $5000 to leave if they are not completely ‘sold out’ on their position at Amazon. Why would they do that, and what can church leadership learn from them?

amazon volunteer church

Why? According to the leadership at Amazon, they consider it a better prospect to offload staff who are disgruntled or not completely enthralled with their position. Here’s what they said:

“The goal is to encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want… In the long run, an employee staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company.”

A Lesson for Church Leadership? Am I promoting that churches pay their members to leave? Some of you reading this can already think of those people who you might like to ‘pay off.’ However, that is not my point. Here is the principle we can apply to our volunteers in the local church:

Ensure that volunteers find a place to serve where they can use their gifts in an area they are passionate about. When volunteers serve out of obligation in an area they are not passionate about, it is likely the ministry will suffer and the volunteer will not last… 


Give volunteers opportunities to discover their passion and giftedness, and be prepared for them to move into other areas if their passion and gifts are not being used effectively. 

A Short-sighted View: There is a temptation to take any ‘warm body’ to serve in your ministry, but this is such a short-sighted view as a leader. I would prefer to struggle with a small committed team of volunteers than struggle with a large number of ‘misplaced’ or obligated volunteers.

Who in your ministry needs your time to discover their sweet spot for serving? Who in your ministry is misplaced or serving out of obligation? Who needs permission to move into another area of ministry? From my experience, when we look to the interests of our volunteers and where they best fit, God always provides more volunteers to fill their shoes!

Phil <><






photo credit: luxuryluke via photopin cc

2 Responses to What Amazon Can Teach Church Leaders About Volunteers…

  1. Janette Haak June 11, 2014 at 8:20 am #

    Phil, I agree 100% and will not beg anyone to volunteer. I pray, ask and let them come to me. If they say no , I try to help to help them get plugged in where they belong. Also if someone has been a volunteer and moves on, they go with my blessing n appreciation for the time they served.
    Good blog.

  2. Phil Bell June 11, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    Janette, I think you make a good point and have a raised a question in my mind. Do we give our volunteers as much attention and blessing when they move on as we give them when we are trying to recruit them?

    Phil <

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