I Don’t Have Enough Volunteers!
This time of year can be quite fun as the worship services and other ministry environments fill up again. The challenge, of course, is that it takes people to minister to people. It’s right about now that the harsh reality begins to set in–we need more volunteers.
When that happens, the natural reaction may be to blame the congregation. If they started contributing rather than consuming, we would have plenty of volunteers. That’s true. Unfortunately, though, our actions often fuel this consumption mindset. In other words, we can become the barrier that prevents people from serving. With that, let me offer these suggestions:
3 Practical Strategies For Church Volunteers Recruitment (Moving People From Consumers to Contributors)
1. Stop doing ministry to start building teams. Something probably needs to stop in order for you to begin investing in people and inviting them to join your team.
When churches are small, the leader is rewarded for the ministry they engage and the lives they directly impact. As the church grows, though, the leader becomes the lid because there are only so many people one person can impact.
There needs to be a shift in how we invest in people. Rather than getting individual people to do ministry, we have to begin building teams who do the ministry. The leader who is passionate about discipleship, can’t disciple every person. The leader who pours into students can’t minister to every student. The leader who loves kids can’t personally invest in every kid. We need to equip others to multiply our influence.
2. Stop promoting to start inviting. It’s rare for a person to hear an all-church platform announcement asking for volunteers and assume that announcement was specifically for them. Same thing goes for email blasts and bulletin ads. Most people assume the announcement is for someone else.
It’s not until you sit across the table from someone that you can make a personal invite. In order to have that opportunity, we have to invest in a relationship first. That relationship positions us share the vision behind the serving opportunity. We can connect the person’s personality, passions and gifts to the requirements of the role. We can ask confidently knowing the person will be a great fit.
When you get this opportunity to invite someone to take a next step, don’t say no for them. Let them pray through it. Give them space to hear from God. If you don’t ask, though, you are in effect saying no for them.
By the way, the more people who you have inviting their friends, the more people who will join your team. Encourage the people who are already serving on your team to tap the shoulders of their friends. If they don’t have any friends who are not serving, that’s the first thing that needs to change.
3. Streamline your calendar to create space for people to serve. If your calendar is full with worship services, ministry programs, Bible classes, groups and special events that you are asking people to attend, you crowd out the time people might be willing to serve.
A few years ago, Willow Creek surveyed more than 150,000 church attenders. Among other things, their research confirmed what we probably all intuitively knew to be true: “Increased church activity does not lead to spiritual growth.” (Move: What 1,000 Churches Reveal about Spiritual Growth by Greg L. Hawkins and Cally Parkinson)
In other words, less really is more.
Some of you may have influence to streamline the entire church’s calendar. If that’s not you, begin with the calendar that you can control–yours. In your sphere of influence, evaluate everything you’re doing. Keep the programs and events on the calendar that have the biggest opportunity for producing life change. If it requires a relatively big investment but there’s little fruit, STOP DOING IT! One of the biggest things that may have to go is the number of meetings you have.
These are not three easy shortcuts to double the number of volunteers you have overnight. However, these strategies can help you double your volunteers in the long run. It won’t be easy, and it’ll take time. So start now. Take one step forward. This is your opportunity to expand your influence and your impact.
Check out our free ebook, The Seven Deadly Sins of Volunteer Ministry to learn about other common mistakes that hinder volunteer recruitment, and how to avoid them.