How I Failed at Releasing Control In Ministry (and What Forced Me to Change)

The past 3 weeks have taught me that I haven’t been very good at releasing control to my volunteers.

You see I’ve missed the last 3 Sundays because of vacation and a mission’s trip, so my team of volunteers has lead 3 straight Sundays.

It was really scary, but also exciting.

It was scary because I’m used to doing a lot of things that I realized I really haven’t trusted my volunteers to do.

And it was exciting because they stepped up in a big way and did an awesome job without me.

But the greatest lesson I learned heading into the 3 weeks is that I’m good at releasing tasks to volunteers but not control.

Here’s what I learned when I forced to release control in my 3 week absence.

Lesson 1: Write Instructions for Processes

Leading up to me missing 3 straight Sundays, I had to write step by step instructions for our big processes like setting up the environment before services on Sunday and how to tear down after services, check-in/check-out procedures, curriculum login information and how to download different sections, etc.

I know it sounds like common sense, but I had never actually written any of it down because I was the one who always did it.

Lesson 2: Recruit and Train at least 2 volunteers to do what you do

If you’ve lead a Kid’s Ministry for any amount of time, you’ve probably become really efficient at many tasks.

So you won’t be able to release control to just 1 volunteer (because the church isn’t their full-time job); at the minimum you’ll want at least 2 very competent volunteers.

After you find those 2+ people, start training them by teaching them everything you do.

Once they know everything you do, have them do everything you do.

Finally, step back and watch them do everything you do without you.

Note: I know finding these kinds of volunteers is difficult. It takes a lot of time, intentionality, prayer, and effort. But don’t give up; keep searching if they aren’t there right now (It took me over 2 years to find 2 volunteers with enough capacity, but when you finally find them, it will be totally worth it).

Lesson 3: Make it impossible for you, yourself, and you to exert any control.

You may be a person who can stay present and just observe after you’ve given control to your volunteers, but I am not that person.

I had to literally be away from the environment to have the ability to release total control, but I am so much better for it.

You may have to do the same thing; take a Sunday off to visit another Kid’s Ministry, be in the adult service, or go camping.

It will be hard to just walk away for a week, but you’ll learn so much and so will your volunteers.

So what about you?

Are you good at releasing control or do you just release tasks?

Also, if this was helpful to you, please pass it along by sharing on Facebook.

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Brandon Horst

I am passionate about family, especially my amazing wife, Hannah, my daughter, Emery, and my son Tristan. I am also passionate about helping Family Ministry Leaders lead better. I love new ideas, innovation, and collaborating with other leaders to make those ideas and innovations better. I currently serve as the Next Gen Pastor at Centerpointe Church in Fairfax, VA.

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Brandon Horst

I am passionate about family, especially my amazing wife, Hannah, my daughter, Emery, and my son Tristan. I am also passionate about helping Family Ministry Leaders lead better. I love new ideas, innovation, and collaborating with other leaders to make those ideas and innovations better. I currently serve as the Next Gen Pastor at Centerpointe Church in Fairfax, VA.

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