So, you have some checklists. Your welcome. You have volunteers who can do more than you’ve asked of them in the past. With the checklists, you’re ready to take your ministry to a new level. All you have to do now is simply hand over tasks. You need to sit down with your key volunteers. It’s time to release part of your responsibilities and hand them off – to a volunteer.

Does this make your heart beat a little faster?

What if the job doesn’t get done just like you like it?

What if they don’t follow the checklist?

What if things fall through the cracks?!?!?!?!?

Mastering the skill of release is not easy. It takes time. It takes trust. And let’s be very honest, it takes a great deal of planning and preparation on OUR parts. Did you get that? When a job doesn’t get completed to our liking (and sometimes it wont), we need to look at ourselves first. We need to look at our checklists. And we need to ask the hard question.

Did we set our volunteers up to succeed?

Think of ministry like a relay. You have four teammates and each of you have to share the responsibility of getting the baton around the track. Not one of you can run the baton all the way around the track. The rules of the race state that you each play a part. The most critical element of the race is the hand-off. One slip and your race is over.

I think of my checklist as those batons. They are the hand-offs between me and a volunteer. It is my responsibility to make sure the hand-offs are smooth and seamless. A good checklist defines expectations and tasks. It’s my job to set up my volunteer for success. I have to call to them to start running at just the right time once I enter the passing zone. If they exit the zone without the baton, that’s on me. Checklists are there to provide guidance and structure. However, we can often have a tendency to micromanage and nitpick. This hinders a successful handoff. If things aren’t going the way that you want them to, double check your checklists. Double check your training.

If you find yourself in a position where the baton just keeps getting dropped, you’re going to look to replace one of your runners. Before you do, be sure to do these things:

  1. Triple check your checklist. Run it by another leader in another department on your staff. See if it makes sense to them. Ask them if they think they could complete the task by following the checklist you have created.
  2. Triple check your training. Look at how you train with a critical eye. Be honest and really evaluate the material. Be certain that you have trained for the outcome that you are looking for. Don’t assume anything during this step.
  3. Ask your volunteer to show you how to complete the task. Watch carefully as they work through the process of your checklist. Be sure and point out flaws in the checklist or miscommunicated expectations on your part. This is not a time for you to be right. That is not the goal. The goal is a happily committed and successful volunteer operating in their gifts.
  4. Reevaluate the expectation you have of your volunteer. Have you asked too much? Have you assumed too much? Have you placed a task on your volunteer that they are not well matched to complete? Asking yourself these critical questions are necessary so that you own the responsibility of the dropped baton. Our job as a ministry leader is to not just to win at all costs. Our job is to build a team that enjoys the ministry they serve. Winning will be the by product of having the right people in the right place.

If you have done all of these things and the baton continues to be dropped, you probably have the wrong volunteer in the wrong role. Don’t just dismiss them. Help them find the right place. Value them and how they do contribute to the ministry. The win is finding a place where people thrive.

This takes times. Even the best volunteers will falter. Give them enough room to stumble, catch their stride and make it their own. We need to understand our role as a coach. Cheer them on and understand that they may do it differently. The checklist may need to be adjusted and at times, we may need to find our runners a new lane.

This isn’t a race for you you to run alone. Success is when you empower others to run the race. Help them find their lanes and help them keep the batons off the ground. Ministry was never about what you could do, but about what you could empower and coach others to do.


This post is part of a larger series on moving your ministry forward using the often neglected tool - the checklist. In this series, we unpack how a system of checklists can actually help us take our ministry to new levels. Plus, we want to share dozens of actual ministry checklists you and your team can implement right away. Click on the link below to explore this topic and pick up some helpful resources!