4 Monster Mistakes

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Slaying Monster #3

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To avoid the wrong bait technique, think like a fish. That is,
think like volunteer prospects, not like those already on the team.
Make a list of potential objections volunteer prospects might have
to serving in your children’s ministry. Now list the potential
benefits the position offers, again from the perspective of the
prospects. Then take the list and turn it into a recruitment ad.
Better yet, invite a passionate volunteer to talk about the
benefits of his or her involvement in your ministry.

A bank executive’s office sign reads, “We are not our
customers.” Similarly, we are not our volunteer prospects, but if
we hope to attract them, we must connect with them on their turf,
just as Jesus did in his compelling recruitment message. Here’s my
paraphrase of Matthew 4:19, “Hey, you know the joy of fishing, the
thrill of the catch; come with me and I’ll make you successful at
catching people and changing their lives.” Using the right bait
will at least get the attention of many who otherwise may never
have even come close to your line.

MONSTER #4: “Workers Wanted” Message

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I collect ineffective volunteer recruitment messages like this
one: “Looking for a place to utilize your talents? We are looking
for people interested in writing, drama, choir, orchestra, praise
band, children’s music, ushers, dance, communion, props and
costumes, multimedia, deaf ministry.”

Here’s another: “PLEA FOR HELP! We need people to make copies of
tapes for the message each Sunday.”

Perhaps no recruitment ads bother me more than the workers
wanted message that depicts exciting ministry as a boring task:
“Third-grade teacher needed. Four people needed to tutor. Big
brother needed. In need of VBS helpers.” Task-oriented ads like
these appear in organizational newsletters or church bulletins. The
authors of such ads have good intentions but fail to realize the
far-reaching implications these messages have.

Often as a recruiter, I neglected to grasp that the way I
presented my recruitment message spoke volumes about the ministry
itself. What do unimaginative or stilted ads communicate about the
jobs listed? For a moment try to imagine you’re a potential
volunteer reading the following ad:

Two nursery helpers needed.

Write a list of thoughts or internal responses you would or
actually do have when you read that ad. Personally, I’d hardly
glance at the ad because I’d never imagine it was talking to me. I
don’t see myself as a helper. I want to do something significant!
Now let’s imagine that somehow the pastor has drawn attention to
the ad and I’m obligated to take a look. Now what would I think?
The nursery — dirty diapers, screaming babies. Work. No fun. The
thought of ministry would never cross my mind — solely based on
the way the ad was presented. The workers wanted error of
recruiting to a task denies any possibility that the ministry
itself might be compelling or interesting in the slightest way.

Slaying Monster #4

The workers wanted tactic can be corrected. Simply determine
never to recruit to a task and instead recruit to a ministry. Take
a look at recruitment messages throughout your ministry. Do the
messages attempt to recruit volunteers to a task, or do they
describe a compelling ministry opportunity?

Rather than writing “Four tutors wanted,” perhaps you might
write “If you can read this, God can use you dramatically in the
life of a child who can’t read.” Think about that message for a
moment, and compare it with the former message. How are the
messages different? The second message surpasses the first because
it calls people to the vision rather than the opening. It paints a
picture of how a yes response will change a volunteer’s life
through making an eternal impact.


Al Newell, a volunteer management consultant, has 22 years
experience developing volunteer ministries in churches and
Christian organizations. His company, Newell & Associates,
publishes the High Impact Ministry Report, a monthly resource for
those who lead volunteers. (Available at 800-519-9941 or
www.ananet.com.) Please keep in mind that phone numbers, addresses,
and prices are subject to change.

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