Are people running from you in the church halls again? Before
you invest in a new box of Altoids, consider if your ministry
recruitment techniques are responsible for the cold
If your recruitment process is like a Venus' flytrap where you
snap up anyone who happens to wander into your path, no wonder
people at your church always run when they see you coming.
It's true that the recruitment process may begin during a first
encounter with a prospective volunteer, but you'll need to pace
yourself so you don't scare off anyone. Here's how to make the best
use of your recruitment time -- minute by minute.
When you meet someone who may be a volunteer prospect, make good
use of that first minute. A warm smile, eye contact, and a friendly
greeting open the door to future conversations. Establish yourself
as a professional who cares about kids. Briefly explain your role
in the church, main ministry function, and that there's a place for
everyone in children's ministry. (Often people think it just
involves teaching.) You could have your name, title, email, and
phone number printed on a pen, balloon, jumbo crayon, chip clip, or
refrigerator magnet for a gift to the person. During this first
minute, make contact and set the stage for the next level.
With five minutes, avoid the tendency to "close the sale." Anyone
who's asked and responds to a recruitment call in five minutes
hasn't had time to think and pray about the ministry.
However, five minutes does give you time to make a phone call to
invite someone to consider the options for volunteering in your
ministry. You set the stage by planting the seed of opportunity. "I
wanted to give you a call because you impressed me as someone who
has a heart for kids! I'd like to send you our brochure that
presents some exciting information on how our church ministers to
children." It's like a first date. You begin the process of getting
to know each other. Now add this name to your daily prayer list,
that the Lord would reveal the good work he has already prepared
for this person.
A good recruiter is always on the lookout. When we trust God to
supply laborers for the vineyard, we realize he sets up divine
appointments when we least expect them. Sue Susnik, youth director
at Hales Corners Lutheran Church in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, met
one of her best volunteers while at a football game.
"I was seated next to Pam at a church outing to a football game,"
Susnik says. "I introduced myself as the church's youth director
and we began talking about where she worked. The more we talked,
the more I realized she had many of the skills it would take to
volunteer in the junior high small group ministry. She was
compassionate, patient, and had the skills of administration and a
love for Jesus that was evident. All I did was plant a seed for her
to think about leading a small group."
Apparently this approach worked as Pam has been leading a group
for the past six years! Ten minutes gives you the time to deepen a
conversation and find out more about a person's skills, gifts, and
experiences to determine if this person is right for the job.
When you have an hour, it's time to invest the time to explore
with a person the options for placement as you seek to match a
person's gifts and abilities with ministry positions. Use this hour
not only to find out more about the volunteer, but to also let the
volunteer find out more about the ministry. Many people are
attracted to the energy and glitz of a children's ministry program
but fail to see the hard work that goes on to make it happen.
During this time you can inform the person of your expectations of
people serving in your department (training required, background
check performed, monthly meetings, and so on) so the volunteer sees
the complete picture. You're not doing yourself, or your volunteer,
any favors by glossing over the responsibilities and making it
sound easier than it is. Your dropout rate will soar if you lead
people to think, "Oh, this is so easy; anyone can do it!" You may
choose to do the interviews for only your key leadership positions,
but recruit and train "interviewers" to interview other
A one-day investment in a Ministry Fair can reap a harvest of
volunteers for the entire year. Some churches plan this event as a
full-scale, all-inclusive, ministry showcase. Others select
specific ministries for special Sundays. Either way, a one-day
Ministry Fair gives you the opportunity to present ministry choices
to people who may have no idea what your ministry includes.
Select a theme and decorate accordingly. For example, if you use
the slogan, "Get in the Game!" have a sports theme, with your
leaders wearing sports jerseys or coach shirts. Create as much
excitement as possible with food, giveaways, and even games for the
kids. Have a table display for every ministry in your department
with a list of the positions available, brief job descriptions, and
a place to register to attend a ministry information meeting.