Love it or hate it?
When it comes to recruiting volunteers, do you view it as a battle to avoid or a challenge to embrace? Finding the full complement of servants to fill each ministry role is a daunting task—but it doesn’t have to be. Recalibrate your outlook and your success in recruiting volunteers with seven proven steps.
Seven Proven Steps
- Examine your view of recruiting.
Recruiting isn’t resorting to manipulation or establishing low expectations (just show up!) in order to fill an empty position. Recruiting is engaging people in God’s work through opportunities for spiritual maturity and exercising of spiritual gifts.
Recruiting requires making an investment both in time and in people, but it pays off in rich dividends.
- Assess yourself as a leader.
Are you the kind of leader others want to roll up their sleeves and serve beside? Leaders who exhibit impatience, frustration, or a lack of faith are generally people to be avoided. Setting unrealistic expectations or overlooking the contributions of volunteers add to the turnoff factor. Is the team you lead one that laughs together?
- Establish an on-going process.
Recruitment takes place all year long. Keep a list of new people you meet and prospects who share the same heartbeat as the ministry. Watch for how God is orchestrating people and circumstances to meet His purposes. Toss out preconceived notions that potential candidates are too busy or unqualified.
- Start and sustain relationships.
Are you more focused on the tasks at hand rather than the people involved? By developing relationships, leaders can uncover a volunteer’s gifting and passion so they will thrive as they serve—and know that you care.
- Make a personal connection.
Determine a time to meet with a prospective volunteer. Set a warm, engaging atmosphere that centers on her instead of on yourself or on the ministry needs. Ask questions to learn more of how God is presently working in her life.
- Extend a personal invitation.
Use this tested method to invite others to join you in God’s ministry:
- Cast the vision of how God is currently moving within the ministry. Tell stories that paint a bigger picture of how her role—whether large or small—will help to accomplish God’s work.
- Establish the concept of a ministry team—we’re doing this together!
- Explain the position thoroughly without minimizing the time or sacrifice required. It’s beneficial to share a detailed ministry job description. Determine a specific time frame for service.
- Explore obstacles such as fear or lack of time, offering your wise counsel and experience.
- Ask the potential volunteer to take time to pray before responding. If she’s married, she should seek her husband’s guidance and blessing before making a commitment.
- Identify a specific time to follow up. Usually one week is sufficient before touching base again.
- If the invitation is declined, express thanks for her prayerful consideration and steer her toward other ministry opportunities. Move on to the next person. You’re one step closer to discovering the person whom God is calling.
- Pray to the Lord of the harvest.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matt 9:37–38).
It can’t be overemphasized that each step must be saturated in prayer. Activate prayer warriors to lift up the volunteer shortage. As a team, pray together for the Lord to send His workers. In the process of praying, God can open your eyes to someone you’ve not considered. Through prayer, God will also impart creative short-term solutions or reveal a better way to structure the ministry. Praise and thank God before and after He answers.
When Volunteer Needs Aren’t Met
Pray for God’s Spirit to enable you to respond in peace rather than in panic when volunteer positions aren’t filled. Go to Him with your disappointment. Remember that God is sovereignly in control, and His Kingdom work will continue. The ministry isn’t ours to own—it belongs to Him. Unless He shows you to eliminate a particular role or task, ask your ministry team to step up to assist in the interim. As others watch you, demonstrate a confident trust in the Lord, for He is faithful.
What is your current attitude toward ministry recruitment? Does your outlook need recalibrating? Which of the seven steps will you utilize?