We have all heard the old adage that 20% of the congregation does 80% of the work. Why do we have a shortage of volunteers in our churches? There are many reasons. I think some are lack of time and lack of confidence. Families, jobs, sports, and other charities compete for the time and energy of our members. People are also unaware of their gifts or not willing to use them. Some have been burned in the past, unappreciated, untrained, or think that the paid staff can do a better job.
But as important as these reasons are, I believe an even more common reason is that we just don’t know how to recruit. Our teams are poorly organized, we lack clear guidance as to what the task actually is, we don’t ask the right people and we don’t know how to present the task in such as way as to invite participation. In our eagerness to fill the position, we don’t get the right person for the job. We do not need volunteers enough to pressure them into guilty acceptance because no one else will do it.
So how does a leader go about recruiting a volunteer?
Building the church is the Holy Spirit’s job so ask for his guidance.
Determine true needs
You cannot recruit unless you know what you are recruiting for. Don’t just look for someone to fill the same job the last person did. Consider changes that need to be made or consolidate two jobs or make up for anything lacking in the past.
Determine qualifications needed
Qualifications should meet Biblical as well as church standards. Look for people who are growing in their faith, not people who have “arrived”. Also consider what spiritual gifts and natural talents are needed for the position.
Write brief job descriptions for the position
Include job title, who the person is responsible to, what their responsibilities are, time required each week, training required and qualifications needed.
Identify potential volunteers
Look through your church directory and match spiritual gifts and skills with the needs. Try to also determine their passion, interests and availability. Choose the best person for the job, don’t just fill the job. Don’t be afraid to identify people with potential and encourage them to try something new. Beware too of people who say yes just to please you or because they feel guilty.
Determine plan of recruitment
There are so many ways to communicate these days. Initial contacts may be made by phone, email, Facebook text or in person. However, if even a little interest is there, a face to face appointment should be made.
Talk to prospective volunteer
Before you meet, pray about your time together. Present the importance of the position and indicate that they have been prayerfully selected. Present the job description, making sure you describe any curriculum or resources that will be used. Explain what training is required as well as what supervision is available. Answer their questions and quell their fears. Show them that you believe in them and encourage them to consider taking the position but do not pressure them. Then give time to pray about it. The volunteer should come away feeling honored to be asked and excited about the possibility of serving.
Contact them in about a week to answer any questions and encourage them. Express appreciation and understanding if they decline the position. Discuss immediate steps if they accept.
Recruiting takes time and energy and cannot be done by simply making an announcement of need from the pulpit. As with most things, the more you put into it, the better the results.