Recruiting Volunteers Principle #2 – Ministry is Not a Task

Things to Do.Principle #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.

I remember year after year watching September draw closer and closer.  Plans were put in place, photocopying was happening, phone calls made, and emails sent.  Deadlines were looming for fall kickoff.   I remember the first few years stressing over filling the roles that were still empty for all the fall programs. One of the first tips I was given when I started doing children’s ministry was to create job descriptions for each volunteer on what task they would be doing. That was just one of many things I was told I should do to make it more attractive for people to sign up  I remembered trying so many things and still not finding people exactly jumping up to volunteer.  What had I done wrong?

Recruiting for me had to change.  For me , recruiting itself couldn’t just be another checklist of spots to check off.   I had to get down to the heart of what I was asking people to do. The answer turned out to be less about what I did wrong, and more about what I was missing.  I was recruiting people to a list of tasks.  If the person was the nursery the tasks included signing children in and out, interacting with children, tidying up the room, etc.   I mean who wouldn’t want to be in that role!  Think about what I was asking people to do… the same thing many of them have done or are doing in their own lives at home.  Asking people to do more of the same, or even to just add more to the schedule, doesn’t make sense unless they have a good reason.  Personally I rarely say yes when recruited to a task with no real context to why I’d be doing it.  Why? The reason is simple, I want the things I do to matter.

We recruit people to ministry, not a task. When I would recruit for the nursery by explaining to someone that they have the chance to be a blessing to someone so they can have some time to worship God, and at the same time show a child God’s love through their actions – well that was a lot easier than asking them to spend their Sunday morning signing people in and out. What about the tasks?  Well you still need to let people know how you’re going to accomplish the ministry, but the focus is not on the task but the ministry.

People generally don’t mind the tasks when they understand the purpose and the impact of what they will be doing.  I want the people in my church to understand that whether they are greeting, making coffee, leading worship, doing sound, or in the nursery – that they are there to serve God and to impact people so they can draw closer to Christ.  Are there tasks and responsibilities that go along with their roles?  Yes.  They are a means to fulfill what they are called to do.  Tasks are the steps needed to fulfill the ministry they are a part of.  Tasks are the tool to be successful, but so often we see accomplishing the tasks as the success itself.

The call that God places on our lives is not a series of tasks but a call to follow.  We’re called to follow Jesus and become more like him.  We see that throughout scripture the call is to obedience and faith first, and the tasks are simply a way of living that out.  It was there in scripture, and it’s no different today, we’re called to ministry and not just the tasks.