One of the most frequently asked questions I hear from ministry leaders is:
“How do we get more volunteers?”
The success of our churches and ministries often depend on the quality and number of our volunteers. The seasons in which we don’t have enough volunteers are both stressful and exhausting while the seasons in which our volunteer teams are full and healthy are often life-giving and fruitful.
So, how do we motive our people to move from sitting to serving? I have four strategies that have proven effective in our church.
- Ask with Vision instead of Need
A common recruitment pitch heard in churches goes something like,
“We need more small group leaders in our children’s ministry. If you’re interested in serving…”
In my experience, this is not the most effective way to motivate people. It is my belief that people are moved by vision not need. We all want to be part of something big and meaningful. [tweetthis]It is my belief that people are moved by vision not need. We all want to be part of something big and meaningful.[/tweetthis] We want to serve where our investment of time and energy will matter. Because of this, when we invite people to serve, we should lead with vision rather than need. What if our recruiting pitch went something like this:
In our children’s ministry, our desire is that every kid understands that they are loved by their Creator and that they can trust God no matter what. We are looking for people who get excited by this vision for ministry. If you’re interested….
Every worthwhile ministry has a compelling vision behind it. Share this vision and let it drive your recruitment language.
- Invite through Story
A few years ago, we discovered a game-changing recruiting strategy. Rather than our usual recruiting methods, we produced a short testimonial video of one of our all-star volunteers. She shared how her experience as a small group leader had impacted her life. That one video produced 5x our typical response. We didn’t even have space for the number of people who were interested in serving.
The lesson we learned is that story can be a powerful recruiting tool. Think about it: Stories move and inspire us. That’s why we love great movies and books. It’s why God chose to reveal Himself to us through narrative.
Your most powerful recruiting tool might just be the stories of your volunteers.
- Make Next Steps Easy
When it comes to recruiting volunteers, unclear and complex next steps often make the task more difficult than it needs to be. Churches that successfully recruit large numbers of volunteers typically have very clear and simple next steps. Here are a few tips for clear next steps:
- Invite people to have a conversation about volunteering rather than asking them to fill out an elaborate application
- Invite people to test-drive a volunteering role for a day before asking for a long-term commitment
- Invite people to text a number during the worship service instead of stopping by a booth after the service (Google Voice can provide you a free text number that can collect texts, organizing responses within an easy-to-access list)
- Invite people to respond through one simple way rather than three or four options.
A crucial step in recruiting volunteers is to make next steps clear, simple and immediate.
- Recruit Through Volunteers
We have found that often, the best place to start recruiting is through our own current volunteers. They are the ones who know what the role really entails and who would fit well. At the end of every ministry season, we ask our current volunteers to give us two or three names of friends who they believe would be a good fit for our ministry. In addition, whenever a volunteer needs to step away for a season, we ask them who they believe would be the best person to replace them. These names are often our best leads for recruiting volunteers.