I am a great proponent of volunteerism and it is good stewardship of kingdom resources if ministry can be carried out effectively by volunteers (aka "unpaid staff.") In addition to the financial savings, this provides opportunity for individuals to discover and employ their gifts in ways that deepen their faith and provide immense satisfaction and joy. My guess is that as ministry demands increase, we tend to underestimate what can volunteers can accomplish, and assume we must create a paid position. I also believe the growing pool of retired persons is a particularly underutilized source of skilled volunteers.
Having said that, considerable effort and skill are required to effectively recruit, train, motivate, oversee and nurture volunteers. This is probably another reason we tend to hire rather than cultivate effective volunteers.
When I functioned as executive pastor, our staff first explored all possibilities for a given ministry role to be carried out by volunteers. The major factors ...1