There’s no question churches have struggled securing volunteers coming out of COVID. Some of the issues related to recruiting volunteers pre-dated COVID, however, and the pandemic only magnified them. Here are some of them:
- We don’t pray like Jesus taught us to pray. He told us to pray for laborers (Luke 10:1-2), but many churches pray only perfunctory prayers as they recruit. Only when they get desperate do the really pray—and they consequently miss a primary way Jesus taught us to recruit.
- We assume pulpit and bulletin announcements are effective recruiting tools. It’s just not accurate that people listen to all our announcements or read all our written materials (if the church still produces something like a bulletin). What may have worked years ago—though I’m not convinced it did then, either—no longer works.
- We allow the same members to hold several positions. . . at least until they sometimes become the power group in the church. We don’t have a problem with their serving faithfully on every committee, but we later get frustrated when they’ve gained more power than we might like. The better approach is to be a 1 Corinthians 12 church where every member is has a role to play.
- We have no strategy in place to determine gifts, skills, and talents of new members (or older members, for that matter). We don’t teach them about spiritual gifts, nor do we learn about the talents and skills they bring to the table. In some ways, we assume they’ll just come to us—and that simply doesn’t happen often.
- We allow new members to come and just sit. This issue, of course, is connected to #4 just above. When we have no strategy in place to enlist and equip workers, we essentially say to them, “You have our permission to soak in the teachings but make little effort to give back.”
- We complain about too few workers rather than personally recruit them. It’s easy to get frustrated with a lack of workers, especially as some have not yet returned post-COVID. It’s also easier to complain than to spend time and energy personally challenging members to get involved.
- We don’t provide training, support, and encouragers for our current workers. When we don’t support the workers we currently have, they eventually get burned out. They may continue to serve, but they’re weary—and others not yet serving often take note. Folks not yet serving have little interest in getting involved if they think they’ll have to figure it out all on their own.
- In our frustration over too few workers, we too often put in positions of leadership members we have not yet properly vetted. We learn the hard way that willingness to serve does not automatically mean that someone is ready to serve in a given role. And . . . it’s tough to get them out of a role once we’ve put them in it.
What other ways have you seen churches miss it when recruiting volunteers?
This is directly from my website
What is your process of finding leaders?
Because lives change, and people come and go for a variety of reasons, we try and look for 4 leaders for every one position. I have a main host, 2 back up hosts that regularly attend our gatherings and an emergency host. I believe leaders are called to lead. We prefer our leaders start with being a volunteer who consistently comes to our events, has a great attitude and a servant heart.
It’s important to train your host before putting them in charge of an event. I usually do a 6 month training period, making sure they show up and on time.
First Month: They are given a copy of Safe People by Cloud and Townsend to read. A great resource to help in learning about people.
Then I sit and watch them create conversations, taking notes so that I can give them some feedback.
Second/Third Month: I take them out to eat and explain our event concept. We go over the 30 conversations to ask a total stranger plus go over the book Safe People. I encourage them to ask questions, talk about any issues or concerns. I want to make sure they know what I am expecting from them.
Fourth Month: Reference form is signed by a ministry leader. When recruiting leadership outside your church you need a reference form signed by their pastor or priest. It is like they are going into the mission field. A reference will screen out the trouble makers and those who give a false witness on who they are. This is an excellent tool to always have. You are practicing starting conversation.
Fifth and Sixth Months: You are paired up with a leader to help you understand how an event is run.
If by the Seventh month the leadership trainee has not read the book Safe People and has not got the reference form signed, there position will be open for others to fill.