Most churches have a "hunting season" or peak times where the Nominating and or Recruiting committees mass their campaign to lasso people to fill their needed spots. But, do not rely on this; people who are shy, or feel they are inadequate may hide during this time. Recruiting should be a year round possess. Finding volunteers successfully is by relational means, person to person, rather than just public announcements and big campaigns. These indirect methods do not work well because people tend to be very busy and/or stay away. They will often glance over, or not listen to the announcements or advertisements. The ones who do read and listen to them are often already so busy they cannot give much more. So, what do we do?
Ideas to consider and apply to your ministry:
1. Prayer: Establish a prayer group whose specific task or one of their main tasks in prayer is to prayer for staffing needs and their care!
2. Personal Advertising: This is the least likely way to get people; however it still has a significant role, as it lets the church know of the need. When you do advertise your need, have volunteers give testimonies in writing and in public announcements. Keep them short and encouraging. For children and youth needs, have the children and youth make the proclamations! Keep them short and to the point and do not occupy too much pulpit time. Instead, go to each adult Sunday school class and do you promotion at your church's fellowship events. Never resort to guilt trips!
3. Literature Advertising: As the above method, this is not very effective, but is still necessary to get the word out so people will start thinking about it. Advertise in your church's publications, in an upbeat and encouraging way. If you have the resources, consider developing an attractive brochure that tells people who are in the church as well as outside of it about the ministry and volunteer opportunities. Explain what they do and what they are about. Also, make sure you have a well-written and clear job description to give to potential volunteers, that answers common questions. This will help bring new people into your ministry!
4. Networking: Let the all of leaders and staff members know of the needs of one another, so to be on the lookout. People who may not fit their need may fit another leader's need! Twice a year, have all of the leaders and pastors go through the church directory and write out the names of those who might be good at different ministries. You can do this individually or together. Then compare the lists and contact the people. Work at recruiting as a team and NOT as competition! Also, new recruits and new members may know of other prospects, so encourage them to give you ideas on whom to contact. Make sure you avoid having several recruiters trying to rope in the same people at the same time. Have one leader go to them and see in what ministry they might be interested.
5. Personal Recruitment: The best and most effective way to bring new people into your ministry is to personally go to them "face to face!" Be on the lookout for perspective people, but, at the same time, do not be a "land shark" or "hound" people. Be warm and friendly and make sure you are interested in them as a person, not just a potential prospect! When you find someone who is interested, call then the next day to talk to them about the program, and perhaps take them out to lunch, again making sure you are interested in them, not just as a recruit. You are working for Christ, not the army!
6. Have a plan to bring in and screen people: Too many churches, so desperate for people, skip this crucial step, and open themselves up to potential harm as well as sin of it's people, especially the children!
a. When a potential volunteer comes to you, interview them, check their references, or question people who know them. Have a system of standards and guidelines for your ministry. In this process, be ministering and encouraging to them. Have some specific questions to give them, so they become a part of the process to interview you, too. You are interviewing them as Christ would, not an employer would, yet, at the same time, you need to be wise!
b. Give then a Spiritual Gifts assessment as well as your guidelines and job description. If the person does not register the gifts necessary for the position and they still desire to get involved, let them try it out. Spiritual Gifts tests are not always accurate!
c. Have them visit the ministry to see it for themselves, then re-interview them to get their feedback, interests, expectations, fears, preferences, and how they see themselves as involved.
d. Do not force them to commit; allow them time for personal prayer, reflection, and a good decision. Encourage them to make sure their family supports their decision to volunteer. You do not want to cause division or unnecessary stress on their family!
e. Get feedback from your other volunteers on whether or not they can work with this person and support them. Affirmation and support from potential co-workers who are already in the ministry is essential. Never throw people in a team without the other team members being a part of the induction process!
f. If they will be working with children and youth, make sure you follow your state's and insurance company's child abuse guidelines, such as fingerprinting, and never have one adult alone with the children. The children need to be in plain view, so have windows in the doors, etc.
g. If they are unsure, allow them to try it out for a while! If it is not for them, work with the other leaders and pastors to find another ministry they might fit into better.
h. Have a well thought out orientation for each ministry for a large church or all together for a small church; keep it fun, short, and to the point. Then fold people into a ministry team of caring, enthusiastic people, with mentors to guide them. Include formal training.
i. Have a celebration for them for joining the team, such as treating them to breakfast before church or lunch after church.
j. Have a training program and/or a mentoring person assigned to them.
k. Make sure you have a prayer team to keep this person in prayer!
l. If it does not work out, if they do not feel comfortable, encourage and support them, even if they need to check out another team or ministry!
7. Ongoing Affirmation: There is a direct connection between the time and effort you put into encouraging people and their loyalty and length of their stay with you. Those nice, warm hearted notes, calls, and visits of encouragement and support are essential to turn a short term volunteer into a long-term commitment! You can never say "thanks" too often or adequately enough!
8. Commitment to Servant Leadership: It is your job to facilitate and model trusting God and one another. You must be committed to a stress free environment in your team relationship! A good leader will always be actively listening, and courteous. Your appreciation, love, and recognition of their contribution will encourage respect for one another because, as a team, you are growing together!
9. Be committed to clear communication! You should have no hidden agendas. Be open and honest! Your sole agenda is to please God!
10. Evaluation: Have a non-threatening, encouraging, positive way to evaluate the effectiveness of the volunteers. People will serve you longer and better if they know where they stand, and have a sense they are doing a good job!
11. Celebration: Find various ways to publicly and privately reward your volunteers, especially those who have served long and faithfully!
Copyright 1988, 1998, 2000 Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/