Identifying and Developing Volunteer Leaders

Recruiting volunteers for church is one thing, but cultivating strong leaders is an entirely different story. Volunteer training is easy enough when you have good leaders on your team. But where can you find these leaders in the first place?

Grant Glas
May 30, 2022
Kids Ministry Leadership

There is an element of leadership that many people think is innate, (think “natural born leader”). But, research suggests only one-third of it comes down to genetics. That leaves a whole lot of wiggle room for you to create strong leaders in the church.

With the right guidance and support, you could be nudging your current volunteers with potential toward leadership positions. Influential leaders breed more budding leaders, so gear your church volunteering program towards leadership.

Ready to take your ministry to the next step with leadership? Keep reading for a guide on how to get there.

Identifying Leaders

Woman leaders

Half of the process involves identifying the church workers who show signs of good leadership. Throwing every volunteer towards the same training route will likely be unsuccessful, so select your most promising candidates to focus your time and resources.

Bear in mind that there are many different leadership styles and practices. So don’t write off those who exhibit the more subtle leading styles. Some tell-tale signs of people with potential are:


Consider how seriously each of your volunteers takes their role. Do they bring enthusiasm to their work? Do they understand the purpose behind what they are doing? Are they dedicated to the bigger picture? 


Keep an eye on your church volunteers to see who has a work ethic that shines through. People who consistently meet their deadlines on time are more likely to be able to handle the added responsibility that comes with being a leader.


Honesty is a central pillar of being a trustworthy leader. People need to believe in the words they say and the direction they go in. Look out for people who possess reliability, openness, and are genuine about the things they believe in.


Leaders must have a certain degree of ingenuity. If they can take the initiative and act on their own when needed, they will probably be able to guide others to do the same. The ability to work on their own is essential.


Take note whenever a volunteer goes out of their way to help someone else. Helpful and supportive people are who you want on your team, whether they assist a struggling co-worker with a task, or step up to a last-minute plea for extra hands when someone calls out sick.


Don’t forget that your volunteer needs to want to become a leader to do well. If someone is happy being a volunteer and leadership responsibilities are thrust upon them, they will likely retreat. Make sure you ask them what they think.

Create a Leadership Development Program

Leadership development training

Leadership skills are built over time, so get your workers started on their leadership development training as soon as possible. Offering the potential for training transforms volunteering in the church into a stepping stone for the rest of their lives. Many volunteers will be excited about the learning opportunity transferable skills for free!

Mentoring Volunteers

A certain degree of mentoring should be available to all your volunteers. Coach them through their expectations and responsibilities to ensure you have a strong team of workers. Add an extra layer of leadership mentoring by offering some volunteers small management roles.

Don’t throw them in at the deep end to fend for themselves, but offer them a little more responsibility and see how they take it. Make sure they are looked after and can ask for help whenever needed. Having a hierarchical system whereby leaders create more leaders through mentoring is a system that runs itself.

Leadership Training

After being mentored through several projects across a long period, your volunteer might be ready to take the next step. Formal leadership training can give someone the boost needed to transform into an influential leader. If you have a large budget, you could consider a respected source such as 

If you don’t have much money to spend, there are plenty of free church leadership training resources online, ranging from blogs and podcasts and YouTube and quizzes. Using these, you could even assign tasks to your new volunteer leaders to complete in their own time. 

Let Them Lead

Once they are ready and have spent a certain amount of time preparing, it's time to let them lead independently. Whether you choose to make them social media managers or leaders of event logistics, assign them a group of volunteers to make their vision come true. 

And, you guessed it, these new leaders are now the mentors for the next generation of church leaders. Review the first few projects they complete independently to ensure your ministry only accepts quality leadership. Give your leaders self-assessment reviews to complete and allow your volunteers to have a voice too.

Keep your ministry environment dynamic and thriving by incorporating a system of leadership development that is supportive and inclusive. At every step of leadership within your ministry, there should be collaboration and conversation, so every person involved in the running of things in your ministry is on the same page. Take your church leadership to the next level using these resources and tips, and watch as your ministry transforms.

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