Delegating is a vital skill for church workers, both staff and volunteer leaders. (Scroll down or click here to see last week’s article about delegation.) Delegating takes time and effort. It involves risk. Still, the potential results make it well worthwhile. And it’s a skill that improves with practice.

The steps:

1. Plan ahead. You can’t delegate if you’re doing things at the last minute.

2. Select a task. Think broadly as you break it down into its component parts like research, event planning, information gathering, survey creation, shopping, and so on.

3. Choose the person you will ask to serve as a volunteer. Don’t settle for the nearest warm body with a pulse or for the person least likely to decline. Select someone with the abilities to do the job well, though knowing that your delegate may approach it in an entirely different way than you might.

4. Agree on the goal, the end result you want. How will you measure success? Notice the emphasis on the result, not the process. Let the person achieve that result in his or her own way.

5. Agree upfront on the amount of control you will retain. This step is key to success or failure. Do you want your delegate to run each step by you before beginning it? Would you prefer a check-in every Friday afternoon? Or would you rather your delegate would  take the ball and run with it, checking in only if a problem comes up?

The better you know the volunteer and the more you trust his or her track record, the more autonomy you can give. If you don’t have much prior experience with the person, more frequent check-ins will be good for both of you. Agree together on a follow-up plan. Then make sure to follow through on it.

6. Set your deputy up for success. Provide everything needed to do the job well—information, tools, access to equipment, other resources, timely answers to questions, periodic affirmation, and the like.

7. As the task or event concludes, sit down to review and celebrate together. Ask questions like: What went well? How could we have improved our collaboration? This follow up process will help you improve your delegation skills.


Some time ago, I invited Debbie, who had earlier mentioned her love of event planning, to oversee our upcoming ministry fair. I told her our goal was an attractive and fun event that encouraged lots of conversations about ministry. I shared details of previous ministry fairs, but encouraged fresh ideas.

I introduced Debbie to Shirley, another volunteer who had agreed to coordinate the participation of our many ministry leaders. We decided which details my office would handle. I asked Debbie to E-mail Shirley and me every Wednesday with a summary of what she’d done and what was still on her to-do list. Shirley and I did the same. One Thursday morning I emailed Debbie because I had not heard from her the previous day. She responded quickly. Our ministry fair was fun and well-attended, a great event. Debbie enjoyed her leadership role, and I was free to make progress on other projects in the weeks leading up to the ministry fair. Cool! 

Looking for ways to say a sincere thank-you to your faithful volunteers. CTA can help! Check out the possibilities!


© 2014 CTA, Inc. 


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