Volunteers, as a collective group, are one of the most valuable assets a church has. Not just because they ensure things get done – but because it helps members to connect Jesus’ will for us to serve with their own personal experiences. It instills values and provides opportunities to be the hands and feet, instead of just hearing about it every Sunday.

We know this, yet we never seem to have the volunteer numbers that we need.

We think that it takes more than an awareness of the problem for someone to be convinced that they can be part of the solution. We need to look at the reasons our members aren’t volunteering and meet them where they are in order to bring them on board.

Some common obstacles include:

Commitment (“Do I need to do X every single Sunday?”)

Scheduling Conflicts (“I have Y on every Z Sunday of the month.”)

Misconceptions (“Well I heard…”)

Fear (“Me? I could never do that.”)

Feelings of Inadequacy. (“You don’t want me. I don’t have anything to offer.”)

How to Address

Commitment: Be flexible in your scheduling. Talk it through with current and potential volunteers. Some may prefer every 2nd Sunday while others can only do once every 2-3 months.

Scheduling Conflicts: Like it or not, we live in a 21st century pace. Not everybody makes it to church every Sunday and things come up. Be kind and grace-filled towards cancellation situations. Build a team mindset so there aren’t holes. Create a culture in which people are willing to step up to sub. If someone frequently cancels, evaluate how best to handle the situation and adapt your approach to the person.

Misinformation: Again, like it or not, people may not have the full picture of what volunteering for a particular need means. Always ask new recruits “what questions do you have for me about this role?” Give current volunteers a voice. They are the ones on the front lines and may have suggestions about how things can be done more efficiently. Listen to their feedback and your current volunteers will feel more like collaborators than just heavy-lifters.

Fear: Ask individuals personally to volunteer! Keep your ears and eyes open. Who has a beautiful voice or talent with a musical instrument? Who is good with kids? Understanding an individual will go a long way when pairing them up with the right opportunity. (Asking someone who is reserved and quiet to be a greeter? Probably not the best fit. Asking the same person to do set up or tear down? Everyone can win.)

Feelings of Inadequacy. One body, many parts? That needs to be your rallying cry. We are all imperfect people, covered by grace, and we are all created with a purpose and a place in the Body. Weave this mentality into your conversations about volunteering and serving. Emphasize that there is a place for every willing person.

What to Do Next

Talk about volunteering. Include it in your announcements. Have sign ups available before and after services. People don’t always know there is a need until you bring it to their attention.

Dispatch recruiters. Identify people who are comfortable talking to others and, let’s be honest, can sell the volunteering experience. Ask these people to be talking about their volunteer experiences with others and inviting them to come on board. An encouraging voice and a positive testimonial can go a long way.

Get the Volunteer Recruitment and Development System. This kit is full of invaluable resources designed to improve, organize and streamline your volunteer system.

In this resource, you’ll learn:

  • Ways to find and recruit new volunteers for your church
  • The importance of checking in with your volunteers
  • How to cast vision for your ministry with your volunteers
  • How to train your volunteers in a variety of ministry areas
  • Ways to show your appreciation for your volunteers

In addition to this content, you’ll also receive:

  • A review of the volunteer recruitment process
  • Applications and interest forms for prospective volunteers
  • Scripts for thank you notes to your volunteers
  • A guide for volunteer training
  • A calendar for volunteer leaders

Get it here.

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