Successfully Recruiting Volunteers

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A sign of good health in any ministry is when there are fresh people coming into the system, new volunteers. You’re not relying on the same people week after week, Sunday after Sunday, Wednesday night after Wednesday night, to do all the work. We are shouldering the work between many people and new people are constantly coming onto the team. People don't sign up to help you at your church. Here's the thing, they're not going to sign up to help you at your church. They are not. That's why I wrote a whole chapter in The Volunteer Code on recruiting. It is a relational thing and you can't rely on a clipboard, you can't rely on somebody to respond to an announcement in the bulletin or an announcement on the pre-service screens up front. They're not going to come lining up outside of your office door because they read that in the bulletin and they’re ready to help. You have to ask them and here's the good news: the good news is whether you're a small church or a big church, you still have to recruit one person at a time.

I have a friend that works at Lakewood Church where Joel Osteen pastors and he's been there forever, he's the pastor of ministries and oversees a lot of responsibilities. About 2 years ago Beth and I were down there eating with him and I said, “Craig tell me, with all of these ministries and all of these thousands of volunteers, how do you recruit them?” He said they recruit them one at a time. One at a time. So here's the deal: don't get discouraged if people don't sign up on the clipboard, don't get discouraged if you don't get all 15 people this weekend, instead focus on getting one or two at a time. Build those relationships and start talking.

What if you’re introverted? I have empathy for that. If you are introverted and if it does not come easy for you to talk to people, then you really just have a few choices. If you're introverted, if you have a hard time talking to people; if you have a hard time putting yourself out there; then you have a few options.  Option one: grow those skills and just “man up” and you just develop that; you just ask the Lord to strengthen you and you put yourself out there. Option two: you get other people on your team, you get some volunteers or people on your team that are more outgoing and it's easier for them to talk to; you give them this task. Option three: You get a different job. You find something different to do because children's ministry (do not go home and tell your pastor I gave you permission to quit) requires more volunteers than any other ministry in the church. It’s just the nature of the beast.

If you’re a children's ministry director or pastor, part of your job is volunteer recruiting. Start by praying. Pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send leaders into his harvest. How many times are we all guilty of trying ABCDEFG and then we get to the end and we’re like “I guess I have nothing to do but pray that God would give us someone,” when we should probably start there. We need to pray about it, we need to lean in on the Holy Spirit; we need to ask God to assemble the right people; put it on their heart; lead us to the right people to talk to; connect your current volunteers and your current team to the right people, and then just start talking to people. A great question to ask is “who do you know that I need to know?” That is a great question for you as you recruit volunteers because your volunteers know people that you don't know. You may be in a smaller church and you know everybody, but they have relationships or relational equity with people that you may not have relationships or relational equity with.

Your #1 fan,


Ryan Frank