It would be great to have volunteers knocking down your doors to volunteer for your ministry. And even better those volunteers would know their strengths and where those strengths would support your ministry efforts! Before you pinch yourself to wake up from a perfect dream, let's discuss how to improve your ministry's magnetism and ability to attract volunteers! With a well-executed, intentional plan, you may not have volunteers knocking down doors, but you can improve your ability to attract (or recruit) the right volunteers.
Define your vision and philosophy
This might seem obvious. You've heard the old phrase "if you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time." Take some time to write out a purpose statement and values for your specific ministry. Each ministry within a church should support the mission of the church, but depending on the area, it might be phrased a little differently. No one will willingly volunteer to step into chaos. Without philosophy and values, a lot of ministry areas can feel like chaos.
Values help you define how to win. If I volunteer to lead a group of 2nd graders, my tendency is to so intensely want them to "get it" that when they are running around, giggling and even coloring outside of the lines (GASP) I might feel like I failed. However, with defined values, I can believe that showing up each week makes a difference in their lives. Allowing them to apply God's Word through movement and fun is a win, then I will feel more successful as a volunteer.
Write Role Descriptions and Invite the Right People to Serve
You can’t just rely on a blanket announcement from the platform during worship to connect with people. First, this sounds desperate. Second, if you have a volunteer that is great with data entry or handling lots of details and scheduling volunteers, they will never volunteer on their own in youth ministry. However, if you know what roles you need and how to use people in their areas of expertise, people are more likely to say "yes" to your invitation because they have the right gifts. There are potential volunteers within your congregation that are housing gifts you’ve likely never considered. Think about using them to make reminder phone calls, handle data entry, help in scheduling their fellow volunteers, and more.
You have to support your volunteers if you want them to be successful. Make sure you’ve developed and communicated processes; don’t expect volunteers to create those things on their own. Help them see the parameters they need to operate within to be successful. What line of communication do they need to follow if the welcome team gets a benevolence request? What should a children's check-in volunteer do for a first-time family? Have these processes already defined!
Part of communication is also listening. Be sure you have established a routine of hearing from your volunteers. Whether it's their new idea for your ministry area or hearing about their nephew's graduation...this communicates value and care. If your volunteers feel empowered and valued, they will begin to invite their friends to join the team.
Give volunteers the tools they need to be successful, including a well-designed church management system (ChMS) so they can easily get the information they need, communicate with each other, and track the results of their efforts. Make it simple for them to see the volunteer schedule, find a replacement and see how you celebrate wins within your ministry.