Volunteer vs Paid Staff

Hope you are doing well. I am so in awe of you and your ministry and am so grateful that I came to hear about you. Your resources are truly amazing and I have acquired quite a lot over the past months. Thank you so very much for the impact you have on so many lives.

I wonder if you can help, please. Our Church is in desperate need of growth. The Pastor expects skilled people to come, assist, and bring the church vision to fruition. This includes major projects like implementing media ministry, outreaches… The expectation is that people give up substantial amounts of hours/days to implement this in the church…all for free. He is adamant that volunteers should build the ministry and that churches do not need to have core permanent staff to accomplish their vision.

Would you be able to comment please?

Many thanks,


Dear Douline,

We’re so glad you enjoy our resources. We put a great deal of work into each one and love hearing that they are adding to people’s lives.

Each church and organization has its own culture, and we don’t want to presume to say anything that might suggest that we are interfering in your church, so we can only answer with some general thoughts.

Volunteers and volunteering are wonderful. Just as each of us benefits by giving some of our money to charity, every individual benefits by giving from his or her time as well.

From the perspective of the church or synagogue, school or group that is seeking volunteers, volunteers allow much more to be accomplished than could have been done without them. However, as valuable as volunteers are, most volunteers have limited time and energy that they can put into a project. In today’s difficult economic times many people are working two jobs. Not only do members need to economically support their families, but as the current culture works actively against marriage and traditional values, it is important to spend valuable time with our spouses and children. An organization that demands more volunteer time than its members can give risks losing members.

In addition, because volunteers do not go through a hiring process or face work reviews, their contributions can range in quality. In our experience, while a good volunteer is worth his or her weight in gold, some of those who wish to help simply don’t possess the level of competency that is needed for the task.

The miracle of money that God presented exclusively to His humans is that it exchanges with other things. For instance, money can convert problems into expenses. Similarly, money converts into energy and time, meaning that we can walk to our destination for free but with great expenditure of time and energy. Or one can exchange money for a railway or airplane ticket and make the same journey in very little time and using little energy. What this means is that an organization can ask its devotees to volunteer their time and energy but it can also ask them to offer their money. It actually comes to exactly the same thing but this way does allow the organization the ability to exercise some quality control.

In real life, these problems tend to sort themselves out. If a volunteer staff isn’t making things happen, it becomes clear that the job needs a different type of commitment. We hope your church will flourish with whatever arrangement is found to work.

Best wishes,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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