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A woman children's ministry leader who looks exhausted. She's sitting at a table with her chin resting on the back of her hand.
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Desperate for Volunteers? Here’s What NOT to Do.

Here are five things you shouldn’t do when you’re desperate for volunteers. 

I know. You need more volunteers. So do I. And we always will. Building a volunteer team is a never-ending process, especially if your ministry is growing. When you’re desperate, our natural tendency is to resort to desperate measures, but this will only make things worse.

Here are five things not to do when you’re desperate for volunteers. These tactics may seem like quick fixes, but they’ll only hurt your team-building efforts in the long run.

What NOT to Do When You’re Desperate for Volunteers

1. Don’t use the words need or help or desperate.

You may be desperate, but you don’t want to appear desperate. People aren’t drawn to desperation, and they won’t line up to get on board a ministry that appears to be in 9-1-1 mode. Vision is a magnet; desperation is a repellent.

2. Don’t rely on bulletin ads.

Bulletin ads won’t bring the people you need, and if you run them often, people will train themselves to ignore them.

3. Don’t ask your pastor to make a tearful plea from the pulpit.

Do not put your pastor in the awkward position of begging for volunteers. It’s your job to build your volunteer team.

4. Don’t require parents to serve.

People should serve in children’s ministry because they are passionate about it, not because they’re required to. By all means, recommend that receptive parents get involved; but don’t coerce.

5. Don’t place people where they’re not gifted.

Don’t throw people into rooms just because you’re desperate for volunteers. If you don’t take the time to place people in their sweet spot, they’ll burn out and quit.

The bottom line: The proven way to build a volunteer team is one-to-one asks. It takes hard work and personally asking people week in and week out to join your team. We’ve added more than 1,200 volunteers to our team in the last four years. They didn’t come through desperate measures; they came through personal asks. Try it—it works.

Dale Hudson is the founder and director of Building Children’s Ministries in Decatur, Alabama, and is co-author of 100 Best Ideas to Turbocharge Your Children’s Ministry (Group).

Want more volunteer management ideas? Check out these articles!

2 thoughts on “Desperate for Volunteers? Here’s What NOT to Do.

  1. This article really is not helpful as it tells you what not to say, but does not give you the options of what to say. I have been in ministry for over 2 decades and these are not necessarily accurate. Did not find this helpful.

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