Do you ever wish you could recruit more volunteers and develop more leaders?
Finding high-caliber volunteers before the pandemic was nearly impossible. Now it feels like discovering a talking unicorn!
Churches are open for business, but like many other industries in America, there seems to be a worker shortage. Yet, for the church, the problem runs deeper, much deeper.
The church isn’t just looking for workers; it is in the business of developing disciples. As any church leader knows, becoming like Jesus is impossible unless you’re serving like the Savior.
“It’s the same way with the Son of Man. He didn’t come so that others could serve him. He came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many people.” (Matthew 20:28, GW)
Recruiting and developing volunteers is a crucial part of discipleship for every church.
It’s not just a way to keep the church alive; it’s the only way to thrive. And, even more important, it’s the key to reaching the next generation.
So, how do you recruit and develop more volunteers that can also become the next generation of leaders?
1. See Your Role Differently
The #1 volunteer bottleneck for most churches is the pastor! Wait, what?
Somewhere along the way, the church professionalized ministry. We introduced the unbiblical concept of the laity. And “lay” they did.
We taught them to lay down
while the pastor runs around.
Nothing could be further from the job description of the pastor. Paul said,
“Christ chose some of us to be apostles, prophets, missionaries, pastors, and teachers, so that his people would learn to serve and his body would grow strong.”
(Ephesians 4:11–12, CEV)
Church leader, your responsibility is to equip every member to serve.
Blow up the 80/20 rule. Shoot for 80% of the people serving in a volunteer role and 20% as leaders!
2. Recruit a Volunteer Champion
One of the problems we have in recruiting is the recruiters. In a normal church, volunteer recruitment happens in the pulpit and by the program leaders. The Kid’s director recruits for the kid’s ministry. The Youth director recruits for youth ministry. The Music director recruits for the music ministry, and so on.
A better model is to start with the person, not the program.
Recruit a Volunteer Champion (VC) that is not connected with any of the programs of the church. Their singular role is to help every person find their place. The VC sits with each volunteer prospect and works with the individual to help them discover and deploy their God-given gifts for service.
“Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well.” (1 Peter 4:10, CEV)
Having one person laser-focused on volunteer placement will help your church increase volunteer participation!
3. Start Early!
Every church worries about losing the next generation. They want their children and grandchildren to call this “their church” when they grow up.
Of course, there’s no silver bullet for retention, but some strong elements can lead to lifelong retention.
One of the greatest retention factors for young people is when they have a valuable role in the church1.
They need to switch from saying, “My parent’s church,” to “My church,” and serving in a meaningful ministry is the key!
Children are ready to begin serving (with an adult) as early as third grade, and I don’t mean just helping in the kid’s ministry. I mean serving everywhere in the church!
- In Guest Services
- In Tech
- In Worship
- In Outreach
- And everywhere you can think of!
Paul told his young protégé:
“Don’t let anyone make fun of you, just because you are young. Set an example for other followers by what you say and do, as well as by your love, faith, and purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12, CEV)
The kids and teens in your church need more than just watching the mission. They need to be on mission – serving and using their gifts for the kingdom. And, BTW, we need them too!
Creating a volunteer culture is hard work, and yes, many will just not want to serve. That’s a reality in every church. But make it your goal to create a volunteer culture in that the non-serving “saint” sticks out like a sore thumb. 😉