Tried & True Recruiting Secrets

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Build Relationships That Last

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“Retaining is recruiting,” says Stuedemann. And one of the most
important aspects of keeping the volunteers you have is building
relationships with them. Communicating well with your volunteers
helps build relationships. The more accessible you are to them, the
more they’ll open up to you. If they feel like your friend rather
than “just a volunteer,” they’ll want to stick around.

Nelson recommends making your volunteers the priority on Sunday
mornings. Prepare as much as you can ahead of time so that
connecting with your volunteers is your main focus. Have
face-to-face contact with every volunteer. Even just a “Good
morning!” can go a long way in making a volunteer feel
appreciated.

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Right People in Right Places

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Q: It’s the start of the school year, and someone
with a heart for preschoolers comes to you ready to serve. But you
already have enough preschool teachers, and you’re really
struggling to find a third-grade teacher. What do you do?

A: Put the person in the preschool room, say the
experts. A willing and excited volunteer is a rare and wonderful
thing; putting that person in the wrong place will burn him or
her.

If you put people in the places they want to serve in and are
excited about, Ergen says they’ll be happy to serve — for a longer
period. And happy volunteers mean a thriving ministry — which
means more volunteers!

Share the Load

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, this is for you. Dolan says that
the best-kept secret of recruiting is that you don’t have to do it
all by yourself. You don’t have to fill every single need as a solo
act. Similarly, Burke says your current engaged and fulfilled
volunteers are your best recruiters. They’re the ones who’ll
communicate the passion, vision, and how they’ve been blessed by
serving. Throughout the year, pour into key volunteers and equip
them to bring others on board.

The more people you get involved in recruiting, the more
volunteers you’ll find. If you need 100 volunteers, you may not
know that many people to personally invite them. But if you have 25
key volunteers who invite four friends each, you’ve got yourself
100 new volunteers.

Look in Unexpected Places

Dolan advises keeping an eye out for people who you might’ve
overlooked. She once found two great new volunteers by observing an
energetic couple during children’s music in the worship service.
She talked to them after service and invited them to take part in
the music in children’s ministry every week — and they said
yes.

One often-overlooked group of people is adolescents. These older
kids are the next generation of adult leaders. If you mentor and
train them now, you’ll have no problem finding adult volunteers in
a few years. And for now, you’ve got some enthusiastic hands eager
to pitch in.

EXPERT TIP

Make It Easy

Q: You’ve worked and worked to recruit people and place
them in the right spot, but just like clockwork every January,
there’s a line outside your office of weary volunteers who announce
they’re quitting. What do you do?

A: Group recently conducted a study to find out
why so many volunteers burn out. One top complaint volunteers
reported was that teaching is too hard.

Most volunteers just want to pour into kids lives. Find ways — in
your curriculum, requirements, training, and so on — to simplify
your volunteers’ lives. Make it easy for them to serve.

Pray

This may be the last item in the article, but prayer isn’t your
last resort-it’s your first. The only prayer request Jesus ever
gave was to pray for workers (Matthew 9:38).Weave prayer into every step you
take toward recruiting volunteers. In fact, Ergen confides that
prayer is her best-kept secret when it comes to recruiting. Through
prayer, God has revealed people she should invite to serve in
children’s ministry whom she hadn’t thought of before.

Recruiting is done by faith, not by need. Wideman believes that Philippians 4:19 — “God will supply all your
needs” — is at the core of recruiting. Believe with all your heart
that God will supply enough volunteers.

Ready to recruit now that you know all the secrets? Then get on
your knees and get to work!

Ali Thompson served for several years as a children’s ministry
assistant, in charge of recruiting and shepherding teen
volunteers.

This article is excerpted from Children’s Ministry Magazine.

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