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Plant a Seed...Grow a Volunteer

Christine Yount Jones

77 tips for growing vital volunteers from fertile friendships!

Summer is no time to slack off on your recruiting. In fact, summer can be one of your most productive seasons for connecting with great new people. There are tons of things you can do now to develop friendships with people who may grow into new team members. You can plant a seed, water a relationship, fertilize spiritual growth, and more.

Like friendships, relationships with new team members don't just happen. They move through a natural progression of acquaintance, acceptance, trust, deepening, companionship, and commitment. (We'd all like to jump to commitment when it comes to recruiting, but relationships require every stage and a lot of patience.)

Prepare your field now with these checklists for every stage of a friendship.

13 Places to Meet New People at Church

Thanks to the Spirit of God drawing people week in and week out to your church, you have opportunities waiting to meet all kinds of new people.

• At all church events, stand near the food. You'll easily meet and greet all sorts of hungry new people.

• Serve coffee and doughnuts. Everyone shows up there eventually!

• Attend an adult Christian education class where you'll get to know others (and you'll grow, too).

• Join a sports league -- even if you don't have the skills, you'll have fun.

• Volunteer at the welcome table instead of hanging out at the children's ministry info table.

• Join the choir or praise team -- you'll get to know God a little better, too, as you worship him!

• Get involved in a small group -- for instant friends and fellowship.

• It's an oldie, but goldie: Follow up with people from your church's visitor cards -- a phone call trumps an email, and a personal visit trumps a phone call. Forget the form letter; that trumps nothing.

• Wander around. A lot. (Try not to look lost, though!)

• Serve your church as a greeter. Give 'em a firm handshake.

• Attend your church's membership class-always.

• When attending service, sit in a different spot each week. People tend to sit in the same vicinity each week -- invade some new space.

• Go to church dinners...and sit with people you don't know.

6 Ways to Help People Feel Accepted

There's a man in our church named Roger who's made our family feel accepted from day one. Follow Roger's lead, and you'll make people want to come back.

• Use people's name. Commit names to memory.

• Touch them...shake a hand, pat a back.

• Smile. You're happy to see them, aren't you?

• Remember their story. Ask about something they told you earlier.

• Be present. Don't be searching the crowd for your next great contact during conversations. Maintain eye contact.

• Seek people out. They won't naturally come to you.

11 Things Not to Do

Okay, so you've met a new friend, what do you do now? Don't be tempted to do these things.

• Fill the person's email with jokes, heartwarming

stories, or chain emails that you must send on

if you really love the person or Jesus.

• Act desperate.

• Ask too-personal questions: "So whatreally happened between you and your ex?"

• Gripe...about anything. No one wants to be around a grouch.

• Sigh heavily when you talk about your ministry.

• Bring up anything on your body that has recently been diagnosed, X-rayed, scanned, or that oozes.

• Turn down invitations you get from people for dinner, parties, small groups, or anything else. Everyone's busy, and it's okay if you can't attend once or twice, but if your answer is a recurring "no," people tend to stop inviting you.

• Share church matters that should be kept in the office.

• Gossip. No, no, no, no!

• Have a "better plan" than anything others suggest doing together.

• Invite them to sales parties (plasticware, cookware, jewelry, rock-tumbling) with the subtle expectation for them to spend money to be your friend.

5 Qualities Trustworthy People Have

I asked my husband (who's a very trustworthy guy) to list the top qualities of trustworthy people. So if ever in doubt, think "What would Ray do?"

• Empathy-"I'm sorry that happened."

• Sincerity-"I really mean that."

• Confidentiality-"I'll never tell."

• Openness to others' ideas-"What do you think?"

•  Listening skills-silence.

14 Best Books to Help You Grow With a Friend

This list isn't for the faint of heart. I asked a few of my friends for their favorite "deep" reads. So grab a good friend and dig into spiritual truths that'll help you both grow in your faith-and deepen your relationship.

Waking the Dead by John Eldredge -- this is your alarm clock going off!

Knowing God by J.I. Packer -- a classic that never grows old.

Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli -- encouraging and honestly blunt.

• Any book by Henri Nouwen -- yes! Any book!

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer -- makes you think.

Disappointment With God by Philip Yancey -- confronts questions we're often terrified to ask.

Captivating by John Eldredge -- a chick book but powerful stuff.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis -- Another great classic.

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney -- You can help each other grow in discipline.

Out of the Saltshaker and Into the World by Rebecca Manley Pippert -- Discover new ways to share your faith.

Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper -- What's your purpose? (not to be confused with the other purpose book).

Desiring God by John Piper -- How you can delight in God.

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller -- Think outside the religious box.

The Calvary Road by Roy Hession -- examines God's activity in the heart of the hungry seeker.

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