As ministry leaders, we must make it clear that we have room for more people to serve in ministry. The overarching reason to be connected to the church is to serve in it. Too often, we save recruitment of our teams for a weekend or an event. That doesn’t seem to work as well as it used to. We need to develop a culture of consistent and ongoing recruitment. If you are leading a ministry area in your church, you need to think in terms of constant recruitment; more ways of inviting people on a personal, smaller level, more often.
This concept also works in other areas of ministry including reaching out to new members, stewardship and hospitality. For example, you don’t wait for the one big time a year to talk about stewardship and finances, you weave it into the culture, growing your people on the subject in different ways and occasions.
What are some of the ways to build this ongoing volunteer culture?
Pray For More Workers
One of Jesus only “prayer requests” was to pray for more workers in the harvest field. To build a culture of ongoing volunteer recruitment, make this your prayer. Pray for people to engage, to volunteer, to find their place in ministry. Pray for people to catch a vision that there is so much that can be done in and through the church. Pray for eternal perspectives, a heart for ministry, and more people to use their gifts in the ripe harvest fields of people’s often busy, yet empty lives.
Know Your Needs
The job of an ministry leader is to help incorporate others into the ministry roles, help them discover their giftedness and develop leadership in your area of ministry. You can’t do it alone. One of the best ways to build a culture of a team approach is to know what you need. What specific area could you use help with right now? Write out your optimal number of people needed for your ministry area – your dream team. Without a specific goal about your needs, you won’t very effectively pull others in with you.
Watch For Whom God Is Sending
Too many leaders, including myself, get a negative mindset at times. We assume no one in the church wants to do something. It’s so important to think abundantly in these situations. God has people positioned in millions of tiny places all over the globe and can easily send you someone too. Pray for people to join you and then be on the lookout for whom God is sending. Look for signals of engagement from people and invite them in a little more.
Focus On Opportunities and Investment
High capacity volunteers don’t typical respond to “needy” requests or easy roles. They responsd to challenging opportunities. They typically won’t respond to a plea in the Sunday morning bulletin, but they will jump in when personally invited. To continually build on ministry roles, invest time in invitation. When you’re across the table from someone for whom you’ve prayed might take on a significant role, look them in the eye and say something like, “We have an opportunity to change lives, homes and the faith of people for generations to come and I know you would be great at leading this charge for the next 12 months. Would you join me?” Invest the time in personally asking leaders for roles and give them opportunities for which they can sacrifice and succeed.
Have A Well Documented Process
One of the most often missed keys to including more volunteers is not having roles and ministry jobs well documented. To delegate roles and to pass off ownership, take time to write down those things you do on a regular basis. Start by documenting, step by step, simple and repeatable processes you go through each week. This discipline of writing down what you do will naturally lead you to think more clearly about how you might ask someone to help and who that person might be. Document all you can. People not only need to know what needs to be done, they need to know how it needs to be done. “How we do things around” here is a huge part of culture – it includes people, builds leaders and make roles more defined. Good documentation also includes helping everyone, including new people, know where to go to get plugged into a ministry role. This information should be available on the website, newsletters, and other church publications and communication.
Develop Leaders of Leaders
Inviting more workers into the fields really begins to snowball when you have more people inviting workers! Once a leader catches on and takes ownership, they become another voice in helping others in their sphere of influence to become a part. As you grow leaders, their ministry may become reaching out and equipping others to serve in ministry. Take your people from obligation to ownership.
Preach It, Teach It, Model It
As a ministry leader, you have the opportunity to talk, write and communicate the ongoing goal in the church to involve more people in the harvest field. Tell stories of leaders. Speak about the importance of serving in ministry. Teach that membership in the church is a responsibility. Require new members to find a ministry role. Remind the congregation of their commitment each time you bring in new members to the church. Share a video of someone who has found a niche and loves it. Model what it means to volunteer and serve.