Unpaid but Accountable


By Jennifer Johnson

Since its launch in September 2011, Mission Church in Ventura, CA, has grown from a small team of three families to more than 700 people and a large staff. But only six of those staff members are paid.

The volunteer culture began with the launch of the church, when several members of the core team agreed to lead without receiving pay.

“We have 16 people in our staff meetings, but only a few of them are paid by Mission,” says Jodi Hickerson, herself one of the volunteers. (She serves as programming director and preaches regularly.) “We have had several people come to us and say, ‘We want to be part of what’s happening here!’ And we say, ‘Great! We can’t pay you.’”

Two of the staff members have raised their own support; the rest receive no income and work between 10 and 40 hours each week. But each one, regardless of pay, is treated as a full-fledged member of the team, with a title, an e-mail account, a job description, and the accountability that comes with a staff role.

“They even have to ask off for vacation time,” Hickerson says.

Each one also leads a significant area of ministry, including student ministry, small groups, communications, and pastoral care.

“Our volunteer staff has a huge voice into the direction of the church,” Hickerson says. “They’re leading, not just doing delegated tasks. Not everyone is paid, but everyone is on mission.”


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