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Avoiding The Pitfalls Of Volunteer Recruitment

Jim Wideman
Jim Wideman Tuesday August 11, 2015
<? echo $type; ?> Avoiding The Pitfalls Of Volunteer Recruitment

“Hey there, I’m no photographer, but I can sure picture you as a part of our volunteer team.” Okay, so that line may not win you any volunteers. But the truth is that we all need more volunteers, and there’s something people need to hear from you to invite them on board. So, how do you craft your message to cut through all the white noise? Let’s discover how to avoid some of the pitfalls of recruitment.

I’ve got some good news and some bad news . . .
The bad news first: You’ll always be looking for volunteers

The good news: Jesus promised He would supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19). This includes our people needs.

Same action brings same results . . .

Stop doing what does not work!

  • Bulletin announcements do not work.
  • Verbal announcements do not work (even from the pastor).
  • Shaming or enlisting by need does not work.
  • Requiring people to volunteer does not work.
  • Asking people if they want to help doesn’t work.

So, if we’ve identified what does not work, what does?

Commit to being a lifestyle recruiter

Know what you are looking for and it will help you know where to look:

  • Spiritual requirements
  • Membership and time at church (work the data base)
  • Positions (every place you could use a volunteer)
  • Gift set, abilities, personalities needed or recommended for each position with each age group.
  • Numbers of people needed for every position for depth. (Where you are headed; your next level)

It starts with you

  • Set the example.
  • Up your prayer game.
  • Raise your own leadership abilities so people can respect you.
  • Develop a culture that esteems volunteers . . . ALL AGES OF VOLUNTEERS.

Things I learned that work

Please try these at home:

  1. Be relational – The Christian life is all about relationships.
    1. Learn peoples’ names and the names of their family members.
    2. Just talk to people like you’re not trying to get them to help. Care for them not as a digit.
    3. Do life and enlist others you’re doing life with.
  2. Go where the people are (get out of your silo).
    1. Men’s ministry
    2. Ladies Events
    3. Small Groups
    4. Special events
    5. Weddings
    6. Student Ministry functions
  3. Recruit in ones and twos. Jesus did!
    1. Don’t get bogged down in the numbers you need to recruit instead recruit small so you can put into them. Jesus recruited the twelve over time, not all in one afternoon or in one campaign.
    2. Find a niche (dads of girls) meet for lunch; small business owners . . .
  4. Ask for a specific commitment (6 months or 1 year, tops).
    1. Don’t ask for a “’til death due us part” commitment on the first date.
    2. “Let’s try it for a month and let’s find the right fit!”
  5. Draft, don’t ask.
    1. “I’d like for us to get together and see where your gifts could make a difference with our children.”
    2. “When are you going to start helping me reach the next generation?”
    3. “Are you ready to give back?” (To an adult who grew up in your church.)
    4. “What are you doing in this church? You are way too gifted to be doing nothing.”
    5. I want to help you find a place you can serve together . . . “
  6. Tell people the goal in mind and what’s in it for them (forget not my benefits)
    1. Let those you recruit know the rewards.
    2. Stories make a difference . . . of kids and others who are serving
    3. Ask about their own story . . .
  7. Have a standard of excellence you require and check folks out (applications, references and background checks). Don’t be so needy for help that you settle! Be on the lookout for that excellence.
  8. Go after busy, hard working, successful people. Have a way to initiate leads! (Know what people do vocationally, hobbies, degrees and training.)
  9. Let those you recruit, recruit others (teach them lifestyle enlistment)
  10. Let newbies observe and learn by watching don’t be a dumper (Have a probationary period; take your time making a long-term assignment.)
  11. Three responsibilities of a leader: Coach, model and cheer
  12. Spend enough time with helpers that they know what you want them to do and how you want them to do it.Systems matter!
  13. Spend enough time with others that they are comfortable asking questions. Are you spending most of your time with your most productive leaders?
  14. Meetup’s Work! Meet for coffee and check on them. (Ask, “How are you doing?”) Individual and small group meetups.
  15. Look for ways to communicate without a meeting.
  16. Ask for God stories constantly.
  17. Help them grow spiritually, and they’ll re-up.
  18. Help their families, and they’ll re-up.
  19. Say and show thanks continually; “I appreciate you” is the best pickup line ever! . . . They’ll re-up.
  20. Do a book study together (raise the skill level of others). Have a leadership club! They’ll re-up.
  21. Look for tools to make their ministry better! This creates chatter!

The key is to stay accessible to people and to dare to be relatable.

What do you need to change about you, so you can move slowly thru the congregation?

How are you going to manage your schedule so you can spend more time with people?

While you read this, who did the Lord bring to your mind? Text them and tell them you want to meet up and discuss an idea you have for them.

Jim is considered an innovator, a pioneer and one of the fathers of the modern family ministry movement. He is a speaker, teacher, and author, with over 40 years of experience in the local church. Jim is also an Orange Thinker and is helping to lead “NextGen Staff Solutions” by staffing the church with those who influence kids and teenagers. Jim and his amazing wife, Julie, have two daughters, and two grandsons (one here and one on the way.)