Want to know a secret about people? People want to help; they genuinely want to help. Really. So when it comes to recruiting and retaining volunteers, the problem is not the interest of the person in your pew. Instead, it’s that we expect that they will seek us out and ask to serve.
But newsflash: They won’t.
The good news is that people are the one resource every church has more than anything else – so your pews are filled with prospective volunteers. And to make your Easter services run smoothly, efficiently and effectively, you’ll need to capitalize on people’s inherent want to help because as we all know, Easter is an all-hands-on-deck, three-alarm fire kind of celebration!
"...commit to moving your volunteers from the mindset of simply filling a role to actually being the ministry of the church..."
But a volunteer base will stay very small unless you can create high energy around the service opportunities you provide. You have to make serving something that people feel like they're missing out on if they don't do it.
Here are a few tips on how to recruit more people to serve.
- Develop disciples. You have to change your mindset with volunteers and stop seeing them as a way to ‘get things done’ or simply a means to an end. Start seeing volunteerism as a way for your church to develop and disciple people.
PRO TIP: When it’s time to place your volunteers, use the fill-a-slot recruiting strategy when you have basic, temporary roles to fill. Use the select-a-person recruiting strategy when you need a highly specific skill and long-term commitment.
- Limit choices. Don't overwhelm people with hundreds of volunteer opportunities. Narrow your options down to the ones that are most critical to fulfilling your vision and the mission of your church.
- The right stuff. When you develop a new service opportunity, take the time to identify the personal characteristics necessary to really succeed based on the roles you need filled.
- Say (exactly) what you mean. Clarity is powerful. When people understand what is expected of them and what isn't, they’ll be far more likely to step up and serve. A lack of clarity breeds confusion and a fear of failure, leaving good people sitting on the sideline. So when you select someone and ask them to serve in a specific role, be sure to provide details regarding the commitment and your expectations.
- Invite volunteers. The differences between ‘inviting’ and ‘recruiting’ are subtle but powerful as language plays a key role. While your actions may be that of a recruiter, using an approach that feels more like an intimate, personal invitation rather than a cattle call sends a very different – and powerful – message to the recipient. And consider using a peer-to-peer approach instead of just announcing your needs in the weekly program with an ‘all call’ approach.
Once you’ve recruited – or ‘invited’ – your volunteers, you’ll need to retain them. Training and equipping volunteers effectively takes time and energy. So here are five tips on how to retain your volunteers.
- Celebrate wins. First, define what is a 'win' for your team. From there, you should regularly recognize and celebrate those wins.
- Align gifts and service. Align their natural gifts and talents with an area of service to create the ultimate win-win. Don’t just look to fill volunteer positions and always look for ways to help move people into ministry positions that will come naturally to them.
- Equip, then move. Give your volunteers the tools they need to fulfill their roles. Once you equip them, get out of their way. Micromanaging your volunteers won’t help them grow, develop, or multiply.
- Challenge them. Look for ways to continually help them grow. Contrary to what you may think, challenging volunteers to go deeper will significantly increase volunteer leader retention in ministry.
- Cast vision. Volunteers want to feel like they’re part of a movement to reach your community so always look for ways to tie the work your volunteers are doing to the vision you have for making an eternal impact in your community.
"...use the fill-a-slot recruiting strategy when you have basic, temporary roles to fill..."
This Easter, commit to moving your volunteers from the mindset of simply filling a role to actually being the ministry of the church. And volunteers who have been given the tools to succeed will be the glue that holds the Body together.
Because ultimately, getting to invite people to participate in ministry Download your free copy of "Your Volunteers: Place" is a privilege. God didn’t intend for us to sit and wait for His return; He wants us to get involved. And it’s our job as church leaders to facilitate and lead the participation of those entrusted to us because ministry is for everyone; it’s what we are all called to do.
And once you evaluate your needs, develop a process, and reserve the time and energy to experiment to determine what will work best to fulfill your church’s needs, you’ll find that the spiritual health of your church community will reap the benefits of your efforts.
There's always a next step:
Volunteers are a precious component of church life. And they can do amazing work to help grow the Kindgom. Download our NEW ebook, "Your Volunteers: Place". It isn’t about staffing a team of random people; it’s about knowing enough about each individual to offer a customized volunteer opportunity to fit their specific interests, skills, passions and gifts.