Last week I wrote about policies your church might have about taking staff, leaders and volunteers to lunch. I received some great feedback, so thanks to those of you who responded.

I wrote these posts because my church is trying to develop some guidelines around how we spend our money when it comes to coffees, lunches and other meals. An initial response might be to think, “ugh, we’re getting to corporate” or “why the need for red tape?” But it’s not about that at all. It’s about both stewardship and understanding how to scale across ministries. Some departments have set aside funds to invest in their leaders and volunteers where others have not. Having some guidelines in place may help every department have what they need to be successful in this area. Also, when guidelines are in place, appropriate funds can be allocated for a ministry when new staff are hired or the number of volunteers grow. This is a good thing.

Ultimately, I think that spending money on staff, volunteers and leaders is a good thing. I’ve had opportunities to bless a volunteer who was having a bad week and it turned them around. I’ve had opportunities to discuss life and ministry with a leader over coffee that helped grow our relationship exponentially. Having some resources for these activities is a blessing. However, I think there are several things we should remember.

  • Our volunteers don’t need us to take them to lunch or buy them coffee. There are larger organizations than ours that lead far more volunteers than we do that never provide a cup of coffee or free meal to any of their volunteers. Yes, it’s nice and yes it’s appreciated, but it’s not necessary. I truly believe that a volunteer or leader can feel appreciated without having been fed.
  • Volunteers and leaders want our time and attention more than they want a free coffee or lunch. This doesn’t mean you can’t provide a lunch or a coffee, but it is important to ensure that all your volunteers and leaders get time with your staff, it goes a long way. Keep track of who you meet with and when to make sure that no one falls through the cracks.
  • Discover what floats your volunteer/leader’s boat and meet their need in that way. It might be that you leader loves Dr. Pepper. It might mean pulling your volunteer aside for a 10 minute chat before or after a service and sharing a Dr. Pepper is a great way to invest in your volunteer. Don’t underestimate the little stuff.