How to Provide an Easy-to-Understand Rotation Schedule for Your Volunteers

Carl Barnhill

One of the keys to a dynamic Production Team is scheduling your volunteers in such a way that there is a clear expectation of who is serving when. Planning is key. A ‘fly-by-your-seat, chasing down people to serve every week’ approach is a recipe for confusion and burnout – both for you and your volunteers.


Here are 4 steps to Providing an Easy-to-Understand Rotation Schedule:

1. Have a clear On-Ramp for Volunteers to get on your team. 
(You can have the best system in the world but if you don’t have a steady flow of new volunteers coming into your team, it won’t matter.)


My process at Newspring was:
-Ownership Class
-Opportunities Tours
-Production First Look
-BASICS Training


I explain the details of this process in this blog post:

2. Use a Team Approach.
At the two churches I’ve served in a Media Leadership role, we moved our Production Volunteers to a Team Approach.

What do I mean by this?
-List the sets of services you have. For example, you may have Saturday Night Services, Sunday AM Services, Sunday PM Services, and a Mid-Week Service.
-List out the Serving Opporunities or Volunteer Positions you have.

At Pinelake Church, we had a Run-Thru and 3 AM services at our main campus.
It took 14 production volunteers to run a service on a Sunday.

We had these positions:
1. Director
2. Technical Director/Switcher Operator
3. Shader
4. Broadcast/Stream Operator
5. ProPresenter Lyric Operator
6. ProPresenter Graphics/Video/Center Screen Operator
7. Camera One Operator
8. Camera Two Operator
9. Camera Three Operator
10. Front of House Audio
11. Monitors
12. Lighting Operator
13. Stagehands
14. Service Producer

At Newspring’s Columbia campus, where I served, we had an AM Run-Thru with 2 AM Services and a PM Run-Thru with 2 PM Services.
It took 12 production volunteers to run a service on a Sunday.

We had these positions:
1. Video Producer
2. Director
3. Technical Director/Switcher
4. Broadcast
5. TelePrompt
6. ProPresenter Lyric/Video/Graphics Operator
7. Camera One Operator
8. Stage Camera Operator
9. Stage Camera Operator
10. Front of House Audio
11. Lighting Operator
12. ProVideoPlayer Operator

Have your Teams serve for a Run-Thru and a Set of Services. Don’t have a new set of volunteers for every service.

If you needed 10 volunteers to run a set of services and you had two sets of services on a Sunday, you would need two teams of 10 to run a Sunday.
I’ve found the sweet spot in rotating volunteers is to schedule them to serve once every three weeks. This gives other people opportunities to serve, and doesn’t allow over a month before someone serves at a position.


I would also suggest implementing a rule where a volunteer can’t serve every Sunday. If you don’t have enough people where you can’t do Sunday without someone, I would strongly encourage you to invite and recruit more volunteers into your team. Secondly, you must provide and encourage volunteers to worship with their families.


At Newspring, we built 6 Teams of 12 people on each team.
You may have to double people up or ask them to serve more frequently until you can build your teams to the amount you need. In fact, this concept worked so well for us that we surpassed the number of people we needed on each team and had to quickly cross-train or find other areas for people to serve.


3. Use clear Team Schedules. 
Once you have your teams established, putting them into a simple rotation is easy. Just alternate when the teams serve.
I would suggest switching the rotation each month so one team isn’t serving every AM or PM.


4. Counter Opposition with Vision.
You are always going to have opposition to any approach or system you put in place. It’s happened everywhere I’ve served multiple times. You should definitely listen and gain honest feedback from your volunteers and genuinely respect their ideas. However, God has placed YOU in charge of stewarding the ministry. If He gives you ideas and you feel strongly about your vision, run with it! And stick to your guns! Always counter any opposition you get by casting vision – give them the why, inspire them, motivate them as to what’s possible!


In my experience also, pushback usually comes from the people you least expect.


Two quick stories about this.
When I came to Pinelake Church as their Video Production Director, each service had a new set of volunteers. So every service there was a re-training of the flow and elements of the service. It was not excellent. God laid it on my heart to change the approach and have one team serve all 3 morning services. I had a sweet, older lady volunteer, who had been serving in Production for years, tell me that my new approach would not work. That it would never happen and that all the volunteers would leave. Well, some did, even she backed off of serving for a little while. It was very interesting to watch her come back and get involved serving more in Production when the team started growing, when the services were executed with greater excellence than before, and when there was more of a team spirit in the culture.


When I came to Newspring Church, there was not really a clear rotation schedule for volunteers. We used Planning Center Online but didn’t really have a good base to know how often someone actually served and if we were forgetting people. When I held our first Vision Event with me on staff and announced that we were moving to a team approach, people were optimistic, but skeptical. One of the core volunteers, who actually did most of my job before I came, told me later that he thought it was a stupid idea, but after a few weeks of it working and changing the way we scheduled people, he loved it and wouldn’t have had it any other way.

You can do this.
1. Have a clear On-Ramp for Volunteers to get on your team.
2. Use a Team Approach.
3. Use clear Team Schedules.
4. Counter Opposition with Vision.


For more on scheduling volunteers, check out this blog post:

How do you provide an Easy-to-Understand Rotation Schedule for your Production Team?

About Carl Barnhill

Owner, Church Visuals

Carl Barnhill is a creative entrepreneur, motion designer and author. He is the Owner Church Visuals, a company that helps Ministry Leaders visually communicate the Gospel. He is the host of the Your Visuals Matter Podcast. You can find him in Columbia, South Carolina with his wife, Katie and two sons, Jacob and Wesley.

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