UNPLUG – Why You & Your Volunteers Need to ATTEND a Worship Service

Carl Barnhill

I grew up in a smaller Baptist church and have attended churches where there was only one media guy.


This was the guy that usually operated the audio console and recorded the sermons on audio-cassette to mail to shut-ins in our church. This guy was a one-man band, was there for every service, and was the first one there and the last one to leave. He was rarely out on a Sunday and if he was, the worship service suffered. Badly.

In recent years, I’ve experienced some volunteers who others think are on the church staff because they are around so much, and even inherit authority because they are there all the time.


Looking back, we think people that serve every time the doors are open are extremely dedicated, loyal and sacrificial. Hear me clearly – those are true characteristics of a leader and I’ll be the first in line to thank them for their service to the Kingdom.


But examining this more closely, at times, I came to realize that volunteers like this sometimes would rarely actually attend a worship service. Not the case with all, mind you, but I have experienced this situation on more than a few occasions. This volunteer would use serving as a “worship service is for everyone else” card.

I have also noticed, even in my own experience being on the media production staff at two churches, that church media guys rarely attend a worship service with their family. The closest I would come to worshiping in a service with my wife most Sundays would be her saving a seat in the back of the booth or in the control room so that when the message started, I could slide back and sit with her until the next fire started that I had to put out.


Guys, neither one of these scenarios are healthy.


In both cases, for the staff member or the volunteer, you’re setting yourself up for burnout. There are strong spiritual benefits for you and your volunteers to worship in a corporate setting with other believers and your family:


1. It Strengthens Your Walk with Christ

God has structured the local church with pastors that deliver messages that draw people to His Son and strengthen believers. Your relationship with Christ will be strengthened when you worship with others and sit down to listen to the message God has laid on your pastor’s heart.

2. It Strengthens Your Family

It’s important to worship with your spouse and children. You need to show them that you value corporate worship. Some of the best moments as the spiritual leader of my family has come with notes, glances, or prayers with my wife during a worship service. Actually worshiping together strengthens your family relationships.

3. It Constantly Reminds Them of the Experience They are Helping Create

If you’re a participant in the experience that’s being created, you see things from the end user’s perspective. You experience it just like another church attendee would. This gives you fresh perspective and consistently keeps what the service looks and feels like fresh in your mind.

4. It Prevents Burnout

I moved to a model where no volunteer was allowed to serve every week. In fact, once every three weeks on a Sunday was our rotation, same for Wednesday. A volunteer could serve in other areas and capacities to be involved a little more throughout the month, but we purposeful left some breathing room so that volunteers would not burnout. I’ve experienced myself close leaders that were heavily involved in multiple aspects of our ministry team stop serving cold turkey because they burned out. I’ve seen volunteers stop attending the church even because they were asked to do too much for too long. Being intentional about unplugging and having your volunteers attend a service helps prevent them from frying to a crisp.

5. It Gives Other People Serving Opportunities

We want our church to grow, right? We want our team to grow, right? You should constantly be looking for ways to add new serving opportunities for people on your team. Even in production. Freeing up a volunteer spot from every Sunday to one Sunday a month creates 3 new serving spots for other volunteers to jump into that position. Now think of that model for every position on your team. You’re now setting yourself up for massive growth. Get ready to train new people! Intimidating? Check out this blog post for some more ideas on how to see massive growth in your teams.

6. It Expands Your Team’s Capacity

Encouraging your volunteers to attend worship with their families, and freeing up new serving opportunities allows your team to expand its capacity. Now multiple people can do what only one person had been doing. Multiple people can be involved in creating experiences for your church. Unplugging from the Tech Booth actually allows your team to do more, with more people.

So you may be thinking, that’s great for my volunteers, but what about me? I’m required to be there as a staff member. Well, this really depends on your church and varies based on your culture and environment. I would encourage you to try one of a couple options:

  • If you can, take one service or portions of a service (the message perhaps) and sit with your family every week. Not the best option, but its at least a start at being intentional about unplugging.
  • If you can, don’t schedule yourself on a position once a month. This may take some time to build your team up to a point that you can leave them alone (which should be your goal). If it’s okay with your church leadership, take one Sunday a month where you’re available but not tied down to a position and can sit with your family.

I believe we need to find ways to unplug.


We have to find a way to put the Clear Comm down, train other people to put out fires, sit in the pew, and ATTEND a Worship Service. 

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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