RECRUITING THE TEAM
Building a great team is vital to building a great ministry with kids. This post is part of a series of posts exploring tangible ways to build a great children’s ministry team. The last three posts were about key roles you’ll need on your team, the various teams you’ll need in your ministry, and the ratios by which you can determine how many leaders you need. This post is a repost about recruiting those people.
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 many 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.
Recruiting volunteers is exhausting!
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 WORK
Be the Builder, not 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. And remember, you can’t build your ministry if you’re always working in it.
Build bridges, not just programs. You have to be the one to build relational bridges with people in the congregation. Learn the skill of social networking (in the original sense of the phrase)! Get out there and talk with people. Get to know them. Get to know the parents. Get to know the other adults. Get to know the teenagers. You can’t ask people to join your team if you don’t know people. You can’t build your team if you’re only building your program.
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. Recruiting never ends. Every conversation is an opportunity to meet or make a potential new team member.
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. Think about it: Did the disciples respond to a bulletin announcement to volunteer or did Jesus ask each one himself.
Make sure you let people answer for themselves. Don’t say no for them in your own mind. It’s easy to assume that this person is too busy, or this person isn’t interested, or this person won’t work. If that’s how you think, you’ll never get around to actually asking anyone and you’ll never build your 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 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.
You may hate recruiting like the majority of other ministry leaders. But if you change the way you think, pray, work, and talk about it, you may come to actually enjoy recruiting.