There’s a big difference between a volunteer and a leader.

 A volunteer in your church will move stuff around.  A leader will move stuff forward.  Both are important, but leaders will provide exponential growth.

A lot of churches struggle with engaging, inspiring and working with volunteers.  But we’re even worse when it comes to recruiting church leaders.  Here are three reasons you might struggle to involve more leaders in your ministry.

1. Leaders aren’t recruited from a sign up table.  

If you need a bunch of people to sign up for a work day or a volunteer opportunity, there’s a good chance you will see some activity from a really passionate message and a solid call to action.  When the stakes are low, you can get people to go to the sign up table.

But you can’t recruit leaders this way.  Leaders don’t sign up at tables along with everyone else.  They respond to personal invitations.  If you want to engage leaders, you need to identify them and personally invite them into the process.

Try saying something like this:  “Hey Jimmy…I’ve noticed you over the last few months and our staff was talking.  We all agree you have tremendous leadership potential.  Would you like to grab coffee sometime and talk about it.”  

 2.  You have to work hard to create a culture of leadership.

If you don’t have a culture of leadership at your church, leaders won’t thrive there.  You may have a culture where the pastors do everything, or where people aren’t trusted with decisions.  If that’s the case, you’ve got to work hard to create a new and better culture.  One where innovation and risk is valued.

That’s the kind of culture that’s attractive to a leader.

Creating a culture where leadership can thrive takes time and work.  You have to create a leadership development path and bring it front and center.

3.  You have to be willing to let leaders make messes.

Leaders don’t want to be told how to do everything.  They want the freedom to lead.  That’s a defining and fundamental characteristic of this kind of person.  So if you want leaders to lead ministry, you need to put people in charge.  Support them, guide them and champion the vision…but let them lead.

A lot of church leaders are just unwilling to do this, choosing to keep tighter reigns on everything.  I think those kind of churches can be well organized and effective, but they won’t involve people to their full potential.

In fact, part of helping people reach their full potential involves properly aligning them with the right projects in your church. This is true for volunteers, leaders, and full-time staff.  It’s so detrimental to the health of your church that, if not done correctly, it could stunt the growth of your church.

Also, it’s important that they all understand the ministry vision and mission of the church so the expectations are clear up front.

These aren’t quick fixes, and take time to properly implement. But when done properly, they’ll free you up to focus on other ministry efforts, and will help your volunteers find significance in their service.

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