Unplug – Why You, Your Volunteers Need to Attend a Service

by Carl Barnhill

There are strong spiritual benefits for you and your volunteers to worship in a corporate setting, with other believers and your family.

I grew up in a smaller Baptist church, and have attended churches where there was only one media guy.

Being on the media production staff at two churches, I’ve seen that church media guys rarely attend a worship service with their family.
At this church, this was the guy that usually operated the audio console and recorded the sermons on audiocassette to mail to shut-ins in our church.

He was a one-man band and was there for every service, was the first one there and the last one to leave.

He was rarely not there for a Sunday. If for some reason he wasn’t, the worship service suffered … badly.

In recent years, I’ve experienced some volunteers who others think are on the church staff, because they are around so much. Those volunteers even inherit authority, because they are there all the time.

In looking back, we look on people that serve every time that the doors are open, as being extremely dedicated, loyal and sacrificial.

Hear me clearly – those are true characteristics of a leader. And I’ll be the first in line to thank them for their service to the Kingdom.

Examining this more closely, at times, though, I came to realize that volunteers like this sometimes would rarely actually attend a worship service.

Not the case with all, mind you, but I have experienced this situation on more than a few occasions. This volunteer would use serving as a “worship service is for everyone else” card.

I have also noticed, even in my own experience, being on the media production staff at two churches, that church media guys rarely attend a worship service with their family.

The closest I would come to worshipping in a service with my wife most Sundays, would be by having her save a seat in the back of the booth or in the control room, so that when the message started, I could slide back and sit with her. That would only be until the next fire started, that I had to put out.

Guys, neither one of these scenarios are healthy.

In both cases, for the staff member or the volunteer, you’re setting yourself up for burnout.

There are strong spiritual benefits for you and your volunteers to worship in a corporate setting, with other believers and your family:

1. It strengthens your walk with Christ.

God has structured the local church with pastors that deliver messages, drawing people to His Son and to strengthen believers. Your relationship with Christ will be strengthened when you worship with others, and sit down to listen to the message God has laid on your pastor’s heart.

2. It strengthens your family.

It’s important to worship with your spouse and children. You need to show them that you value corporate worship.

Some of the best moments as the spiritual leader of my family has come with notes, glances, or prayers with my wife during a worship service.

Worshipping together strengthens your family relationships.

3. It constantly reminds them of the experience they are helping to create.

If you’re a participant in the experience that’s being created, you see things from the end user’s perspective. You experience it just like another church attendee would. This gives you fresh perspective, and consistently keeps what the service looks and feels like fresh in your mind.

4. It prevents burnout.

I moved to a model where no volunteer was allowed to serve every week.

Our rotation was changed to once every three weeks on a Sunday, same for Wednesday. A volunteer could serve in other areas and capacities, if they wanted to be involved a little more throughout the month, but we purposefully left some breathing room, so that volunteers would not burn out.

I’ve experienced myself close leaders that were heavily involved in multiple aspects of our ministry team, opting to stop serving cold turkey, because they were so burnt out. I’ve seen volunteers stop attending the church, because they were asked to do too much, for too long.

Being intentional about unplugging, and having your volunteers attend a service helps prevent them from frying to a crisp.

5. It gives other people the opportunity to serve.

We want our church to grow, right?

We want our team to grow, right?

You should constantly be looking for ways to add new serving opportunities for people on your team. Even in production.

Freeing up a volunteer spot from every Sunday to one Sunday a month, creates three new serving spots for other volunteers to jump into that position.

Now think of that model for every position on your team.

You’re now setting yourself up for massive growth. Get ready to train new people! Intimidating? Check out this blog post for some more ideas on how to see massive growth in your teams.

6. It expands your team’s capacity.

Encouraging your volunteers to attend worship with their families and freeing up new serving opportunities, allows your team to expand its capacity.

Now multiple people can do what only one person had been doing. Multiple people can be involved in creating experiences for your church.

Unplugging from the tech booth, actually allows your team to do more, with more people.

You may be thinking, that’s great for my volunteers, but what about me? I’m required to be there as a staff member.

Well, this really depends on your church, and varies based on your culture and environment. I would encourage you to try one of a couple options:

If you can, take one service or portions of a service (the message perhaps) and sit with your family every week. It’s not the best option, but it’s at least a start at being intentional about unplugging.

If you can, don’t schedule yourself on a position once a month. This may take some time to build your team up to a point, to where you can leave them alone (which should be your goal).

If it’s OK with your church leadership, take one Sunday a month where you’re available, but not tied down to a position, and can sit with your family.

I believe we need to find ways to unplug.

We have to find a way to put the Clear-Com intercom down, train other people to put out fires, sit in the pew, and attend a worship service.


Essential reading for worship leaders since 2002.


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