A major part of me hates recruiting volunteers. It takes a lot of energy just to work up the motivation to ask people to volunteer. I think most ministry leaders pretty much hate recruiting volunteers.
We don’t like asking for help. We don’t want to make all those phone calls only to be told “no” ten times. We don’t want to be seen as a nag. We don’t want people to feel guilted into volunteering. And, we don’t want to ask someone who says yes, only to find out a few months later how big of a mistake it was to ask them.
We hate recruiting volunteers.
But recruiting is vital to the success of any ministry. God designed the church to have its ministry in the hands of the people, not just the professional. So what do we do? Here are a few lessons I’ve learned while on the growing edge.
Change the Way You Think
You’re not asking people to help you. This isn’t your ministry for which you need to recruit additional help to accomplish your goals. You’re not supposed to build a program then use people to make it successful. You’re inviting people to join you as you all offer yourselves to serve God and his mission.
Your calling isn’t just to kids. Your calling is to serve God and His mission, through His church. This includes everyone…not just the kids. This includes being a match-maker between kids and adults; between people and positions. This includes seeing people’s spiritual gifts and their potential in the Church’s ministries.
You’re not recruiting “volunteers.” You’re empowering people to be the Body of Christ. Every person plays their part. Your job is to help them figure out what their part is…even the adults.
Change the Way You Pray
Pray for the need. When a need opens up in your ministry, ask God to lead you to the person who is gifted to meet that need. This is God’s ministry, not yours. If He revealed the need, He’ll reveal the person.
Pray for your people. Don’t just think of your church as a people pool from which you pull volunteers to serve your program. Look at the people in your church from a pastoral perspective. Pray for them. Ask God what their role in the Church might be.
Pray boldly. When you ask, expect an answer. If you truly believe that this is God’s ministry then you can be confident in knowing that he will provide what you need.
Change the Way You Talk
Don’t say “Could you help?” Again, you’re not asking people to help you. Instead, say “I noticed that our ministry could use a ______. You came to mind as I was praying about it. Would you be interested in talking about it?”
Don’t say “I need,” or “We need.” Instead say, “I was thinking about you the other day and thought you might do well as a small group leader. Would you be interested in talking about it?”
Don’t use the word “volunteer.” Well, not as much anyway. Be specific. What’s the role? A small group leader or co-leader? A classroom assistant? A coach? Be specific about what the role is.
Change the Way You Recruit
Ask People. It’s okay and even helpful to post your open roles in the church bulletin, newsletter, etc. But don’t rely on that as your primary means of recruitment. Your best leaders will be those you personally invite to join the team.
Ask People to Ask People. Your leaders, teachers, musicians, and other “volunteers” can also be your best recruiters. Invite them into the recruiting process by asking them to think of people who might like to join the team.
Change the Way You Work
Don’t be the doer. Be the recruiter. Be the equipper. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s easier just to do everything yourself. You’re actually making more work for yourself in the long run. God designed the Church to be a team. Rebelling against God’s design is harder than following it.
Don’t put it off. Get to it. The longer you put it off, the harder it gets. Make recruiting a major part of your job. It’s just what you do.
You may hate recruiting like the majority of other ministry leaders. But if you change the way you think and pray about it, you may actually come to enjoy it.