Volunteer Recruitment: Make it personal
Most children’s ministry leaders are always at their wits end about how to drum up more volunteers. And I will tell you that I have a solution for you. It’s not easy, but it is effective.
First, start with prayer. OK, don’t stop reading. I know this may seem so elementary and obvious that you might be saying, “Really, that’s your advice.” And my answer would be “Absolutely!” Because I think for most of us, that is not where we start. We start with a new book or resource, we start with ideas from other children’s ministry leaders, we start with designing our next catchy recruitment campaign.
Although those things are not inherently bad, you put the cart before the horse when you start there. Children are a harvest field. And God already knows what it takes to labor in that field. He already knows that we are striving each Sunday and mid-week to make sure classes are covered, to make sure our ratios are balanced. But let me tell you something else He knows. He knows that you cannot bring in all the volunteers that you need. And even more so, He knows who you need and who will answer the call.
So do yourself a favor and start by going to the One who already knows. He says to us clearly in Matthew 9:38. “So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Our situation with volunteers (laborers) is not unique. From the time of Christ and I would dare say before that time as well, ministry coordinators have been struggling to fill slots on a roster.
So pray fervently. And I’m not talking about a perfunctory one prayer before you kick off your recruitment campaign. I’m talking about some intense time when you talk to God about what you need and about your vision. But even more importantly, take time to ask God for His vision. Then not only pray yourself, but have your children’s ministry team or staff also commit to a season of prayer. Then engage some of your faithful prayer warriors.
And although I know it is out of context, but God says, “Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams.” Yes Malachi 3:10 refers to tithes and offerings, but I believe God is true to His Word in all situations. And if He tells us to pray and ask Him for more workers, then what is our response: “ASK HIM!”
But second, is the follow up. I think the how to getting more volunteers is to get to know people. Get to know the parents in your church, get to know the children you serve, get to know the youth, get to know the seniors. It takes time, it takes a personal investment. And again, don’t get it twisted that you set out to “get to know people” with an agenda where it becomes about staffing a program more so than knowing people.
The more you interact and engage with people, the more you get to share your vision, the more they get to share their gifts, their passions, their abilities. And what you will discover is that folks are equipped by God to serve in children’s ministry but because that gift is not teaching, and sometimes it is not even children, they have never volunteered.
I discovered people with all sorts of gifts just by taking the time. For example, I found one retired grandmother who had awesome administrative skills. We brought her on and she organized my supply closets and kept all the curriculum copied and distributed, plus she handled all of the mailings. That took a huge load off of me to focus on other areas of ministry. The key is finding what people are passionate about, and help them see how they can use that gift for the kingdom.
Invest yourself, make it personal. And believe God for the increase.