Recruiting Volunteers

7 03 2012


I think its safe to say, that across the board in ministry there always seems to be a shortage of volunteers.  Is that true of your church?  I don’t think that is always a problem.  At times of growth in your church, you will probably be in need of more leaders to step up and volunteer.  But, there are times when a shortage of volunteers turns in to a necessity of volunteers, which in turn can lead to a desperate plea for help.  In these times, how do you recruit effectively?  And how can you avoid recruiting the wrong people?

The first thing you need to understand is that it’s better to put someone in a role than it is to just plug a hole.

Plugging a Hole looks like this:

Many times, the first response is to say, “We’ve got so many needs for volunteers to fill, let’s just have a cattle call and get as many bodies as we can.”  This leads to taking in any person without regard to their skills, talents, and passions.  This type of recruiting may solve the problem for a few weeks, but the solution will only last temporarily.  Recruiting to plug a hole is like trying to stop the water flow from a fire hydrant with duct tape (I’m a redneck, we rednecks know that duct tape works can fix a multitude of problems…but not this problem).  When you recruit just to fill a hole, you will constantly be in the vicious cycle of the revolving door in your ministry.  The people will come in to volunteer but will quickly revolve out.

Filling a role looks like this: 

  1. Relationships – Invest relationally into the people who attend your church every Sunday.  When you take the time to care enough to have a meaningful conversation, get to know the people who come to your church, and look to equip them and place them into a volunteer role, you can better put them into a role that will give them an outlet to serve in an area where they are passionate and talented.
  2. Accountability – When you personally know the people you are recruiting, there is a deeper level of buy in.  They know your expectations and your heart for the church you lead, and you are quick to send an email, a text, or make a phone call when you know that the person wasn’t there.
  3. Leadership – When you recruit to fill a role, you are looking for a very specific person who can lead and influence others.  You don’t recruit to just plug the leak, instead, you search for just the right person for just the right role that you have available.

You should know that you aren’t the only church or ministry in the world who has a need for volunteers.  But, you can be the church who recruits volunteers to fill a role that they are talented and passionate about.  Don’t just desperately try to plug a hole to stop the leak.  A band-aid doesn’t work on an amputation…it’s not smart to try to plug holes in ministry.  Find the leader who will carry the vision and lead well.

How do you find great volunteers?

How does your church place volunteers based on their passions and talents?




8 responses

7 03 2012

Very good article. I learned this in my first ministry and now working in a church plant, am continuing to learnt his more then ever. Giving people a sense of ownership and vision inspires them. Rather than just saying we need you to do this.

7 03 2012

Thanks Matthew! You are absolutely right. Ownership and vision inspires and influences leaders.

7 03 2012
David B

When we were in our first Community Group like 5 years ago, our group leaders challenged everyone in the group to serve. And it worked! Kelly has been part time and I have been full time in a role ever since. It’s amazing what can happen when we are challenged to step up. It also feels good to be a part of something big and that. Also inspires people to volunteer.

8 03 2012

David, that’s a great point. This does and can happen in the context of community. I absolutely agree with you. Thanks for stopping by!

8 03 2012
Jon Fulkk

Hey Brandon, thanks for writing about this. This is actually an issue our leadership team is currently struggling through in our smallish campus church where long-term leaders are hard to find. About 6 months ago, I would’ve written this blog post myself, but I’ve honestly gotten to the point of just plugging holes to keep things running. It’s not that we are so short on people, it’s that we’re short on people who will take us up on the invitation, short on people who care enough to own it. I don’t know if this is an urban issue, a cultural issue, an age-group issue, or just a fundamental problem with our church. What can you do when you’re investing in people and inviting them to serve, but they just have excuses?

8 03 2012

Hey Jon,

I totally know what you’re talking about. Great question too!

I’d say that as you’re investing in people and inviting them to serve, you make it about inviting them to be a part of a bigger story. We’re all wired to want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. I’d even say that those who don’t know Christ are wired for that. So, as you invest and invite, show them how they can make a difference in the life of _________________ (kids ministry, tech, lights, etc…).

A lot of times, people fear the unknown. And this is especially true in ministry. Many people think that the work of the ministry should be left to the so-called “professionals” (those of us leading as pastors and ministry leaders). So, they never think that they have anything to offer, or that they can make a difference. So, I’d say show people that they can win in serving. Show them that yes, they can make a difference. Invite them to be a part of shaping lives through serving.

One way we show people that they (as ordinary as they may feel) can make a difference is by having people who are already serving and making a difference share their story. This is as simple as a video story capturing the life change, the win that has already been happening in that ministry area. This sunday, at our campus, we have set up for two leaders to come on stage with me to tell the story of how they are making a difference.

Does this make sense?

8 03 2012
Jon Fulkk

Thanks for the reply, Brandon. These are good thoughts. We’ve done a little of this, but I think we can do more for sure. I’m bringing this article and your comments up at the next staff meeting 🙂

8 03 2012

Very Cool. Please let me know if there’s any way I can serve you guys. Happy to help 🙂

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