Over the past decade and a bit of ministry I’ve had a growing desire that now requires a confession. I love recruiting for ministry. No, I don’t need therapy. No I’m not crazy. I believe one of the most important pieces that we need to develop in our churches is to effectively equip the body of Christ to serve one another and the world around us. I wasn’t always this way. I use to dread my need for more volunteers, spots on schedules to be filled, Now? I love seeing people serving in the church.
Over the past year I’ve had a couple dozen separate conversations where people have asked how I recruit and work with individuals for ministry roles. I’m not sure why those conversations are happening now, but thought I could blog a bit about it for those who are interested. Over the coming weeks I want to write down some thoughts on this based on my role as a pastor. The first number of posts will be background to how I approach this, and then I will build on ten different principles that I use to guide how I work with those who are volunteering or serving in ministry.
I want to be clear – I’m not perfect at recruiting and working with people, but what I share is what I strive for. I hope it helps you. To get things started, here is the summary I’ve written up called “Building a Body that Serves – 10 Principles”. As mentioned, I’ll be expanding on each of these in the weeks to come. None of these are quick fixes, but I believe together can help a church or organization utilize the community around them to achieve their goals, or more specifically, the ministry God has called them too.
Building a Body that Serves – 10 Principles for Recruiting Volunteers
1) People Before Programs. The goal of recruiting is first and foremost to help people find their place to use their gifts and skills in ministry to God. The goal of volunteer recruiting is not to fill slots in programs, but to allow people to use their gifts and skills to serve in the body of Christ.
2) Ministry is not a task. We recruit people to a vision of a ministry, not to a task. The task is not the vision, the task is just their role needed to accomplish the goal which is the purpose we recruit too.
3) Recruiting is about Relationships. The foundation of effective recruiting is building relationships which needs to happen year round. When we get to know someone we discover their gifts, abilities, knowledge, skills, and passions.
4) Thank you for the No’s While We may love the yes answers we seek, but no answers are just as valuable. When someone prayerfully answers with a no, they are one step closer to discovering where they should be serving.
5) Your commitment gets their commitment. We can only expect a person to be as committed as we we are. We commit to them by providing clear leadership and expectations.
6) Staff serve volunteers, volunteers are not there to serve the staff. Volunteers are not there for the benefit of the staff, but the staff exist to equip and enable the body of Christ to carry out her ministry.
7) Pass on the praise, own the criticism. Those executing ministry deserve to receive all the praise and so it must be passed on by the leader, but criticism is to be first examined by the leader to see how it reflects their leadership.
8) No Cold Calling We do not act like telemarkters trying to fill roles in the church. The more you cold call, the less trust you have with those you recruit.
9) Information is a Volunteer’s best friend. The more information someone has, the better they can determine where they fit, and the better they can carry out their ministry. Communicate at the level of your most information hungry volunteers.
10) Recruit for diversity. Recruit to complement strengths, offset weaknesses, and to reflect the diversity of the church.