002 - 6 Tips to Build Your Church Volunteer Core - Leaders.Church


002 – 6 Tips to Build Your Church Volunteer Core

What’s in this Episode?

Do you feel like you always ask the same volunteers to do everything? Do you wish others would step up and get more involved? This is a constant challenge for churches everywhere. There’s always more ministry to be done and not enough people to do it. Well in today’s episode, we’re going to look at six tips to increase your church volunteer core to help you get more people off the sidelines and in the trenches with you.

Read the Transcript

Jonathan Hardy 0:34
So, my wife Ashley is one of the kids team leaders at our church and she oversees one of the services for the early childhood, so we have four rooms that they divide up the early child all the way up through zero through kindergarten. And so basically what’s happening here is she is finding that the church keeps digging or dipping into the same well of people so to speak. And I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this at other churches, I’m sure you have, where you’re just constantly going to the same people over and over to the point where the volunteers that are coming are saying, “Hey, aren’t there other new people that are raising their hand saying, hey, I want to serve?” So a couple weeks ago, she was expressing to me some concern and a little bit of anxiety because of the eight people they need for that particular weekend coming up, they only had three people that were confirmed coming on, right. So she’s kind of worried, flipping out. And the fact is, this is a problem that churches face all the time, right, but you’ve seen it all the time. Tons of times. So today, we want to talk about six tips that are going to help you build your churches, volunteer core, because the fact is, if you can build that core, then you’re basically building a bigger well, so to speak, of people to be able to dip into and to reach out to so that way, you’re not constantly going to the same people over and over and that’s what we want to help churches prevent and today we’re going to help us build this volunteer c ore. So we’re going to start off with six tips and Dick, why don’t you give us the first tip here?

Tip #1: Elevate Volunteer Service

Dick Hardy 2:02
Well, you know, the very first thing, Jonathan, I tell pastors all the time is you’ve got to elevate volunteer service. You can’t have volunteer services. It’s just all, you know, we got to plug slots, and we just have to clean toilets, change diapers and do crummy stuff. But you have to elevate volunteerism to a high level, because if you think of the mission of the church, the mission is of extremely high value. And therefore all these volunteers, I mean, most churches, they don’t have a lot of staff. I mean, it’s volunteers make a habit. They have to elevate the role of the volunteer with the church so that the volunteer feels valued. When you’re constantly pushing down where, “Oh, we just have to do this. We have to,” then you’re going to lose because it’s considered low value. Nobody wants to be part of low value.

Jonathan Hardy 2:37
Yeah. They want to be a part of high value.

Dick Hardy 3:00
You want to give great kudos to people. You know, I think of, you know, people that are doing some routine things. I mean, you want to give attaboys, kudos, pats on the back, high fives, thanking them all the time and communicate to them that what they’re doing ties to the mission of the church.

Jonathan Hardy 3:16
I think one of the ways you can give kudos is to whenever you have team trainings, or other things that you do, or maybe even just through communicating through email or somewhere you just give props to someone say, “hey, this person, you know, they stood out this past weekend, this is something they did, I just want to thank them for that. They went above and beyond over the top.” And so your, highlighting what you want people to be doing, because then that raises the awareness for others to say, “oh, wow, okay, I need to, you know, strive to do that myself. So that’s a good point. So that was the first thing elevate your volunteers to the highest value.

Tip #2: Ask Big

Second thing is to ask big. You want to make sure that you ask big of your volunteers. So we’re talking about a big commitment. We’re talking about helping them see the big picture overall, and not I’m not recruiting someone or I’m not asking someone just to come change diapers. That’s not asking big of people that’s, you know, no one wants to be just going into it knowing “Oh yeah, well my job is just go change diapers.” No, you want to paint that picture of, of having them be a part of something that’s bigger than themselves. It’s, it’s they’re helping the church as a whole reach people and cause them to want to rise up to an occasion

Dick Hardy 4:25
Well, and on that illustration right there, if you say to somebody, “hey, you want to come in and change diapers?” Or you can say to them, “hey, do you want to make it possible for a new guest at the church to be able to go to church, unencumbered by the concerns of their child?” Yeah, well, way different way different, forget the diapers, it’s the same plan.

Jonathan Hardy 4:47
And they’d be like “oh I’ll change diapers if I can help someone else.” You have to you have to frame your ask of people in a big way.

Tip #3: Ask Rightly

Dick Hardy 4:53
You know, and taking right off of that, I would suggest that you ask rightly. You know, I think the illustration here when I think of his son, my granddaughter who’s a rather shy young lady, and I would say to her, “hey, Emery, I want you to serve as a greeter on one of the kids doors. Now that’s a big step up for her. That’s asking Emery who’s here to step up here. I’m not going to ask Emery to go lead worship next Sunday. But I’m going to ask her to step up here. However, someone else I might be talking to maybe a gifted musician, who is over here and has great skill. Asking rightly is asking somebody to do something that’s just a step, not 10 steps, but just a step beyond where they’re at right now.

Jonathan Hardy 5:52
Well, and I think in line with their gift set. You know, you don’t want to put someone who’s not gifted in something in that area because that’s just going to be a failure for everyone and it’s going to cause potentially hurt volunteers.

Dick Hardy 6:06
And a volunteer is not going to last doing that

Jonathan Hardy 6:07
Just because you have to fill the slot doesn’t mean you throw someone who’s not gifted in. And I get it you can’t always get, you know, just because someone’s not 100% passionate about it, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. But overall, you want to try to make it right, the right fit for people and where it’s going to be a win for everyone. Alright, so that’s number three.

Tip #4: Be Real

Number four, we want to make sure that you be real. It’s very important that you are real when you’re talking to people and trying to build this Volunteer Core. Let’s go back to the diaper illustration. You know, we don’t want to, we don’t want to say “oh, well, you know, changing these diapers is going to lead people to become close to Jesus.” Well, I mean, we know that it could, but it could come across like well, yeah, come on. I know what you want. You just want me to change the diapers, you know, someone’s gotta change the diapers. But if you paint the picture, kind of like you just did a moment ago where it’s positioning people to hear the gospel and for families to not be worried about their children and, you know, that’s being just real and honest with him with hey, here’s the reality of what this role or what this thing is that we need to accomplish. And so just be real, don’t be fake. Don’t be phony, don’t over promise and under deliver, you know.

Tip #5: Don’t Be Desperate

Dick Hardy 7:24
Yeah, no, that’s that’s exactly right. You know, the next one. I’ve really become a fan of using this term is don’t be desperate. A buddy of mine out in California. I think he’s in Colorado now. But he said, you know, you know, the the most desperate person loses. Yeah. So here you are, you’re leading you’re trying to, well, we were dealing with diapers here. So you’re dealing with the nursery area. And if you’re desperate, you’re going to lose because people are going to turn you down right and left. You cannot be desperate. You’ve got to, because people don’t want to tie into desperation. Oh, you know, it’s so hard. We don’t have any volunteers in here. Well think of what you just said to that person. We don’t have any volunteers in here. If we want to take you and stick you in there and have all these crying babies. No. You want to talk to them about it being up. Nobody wants to jump on a sinking ship. Everybody wants to come on to something that’s winning. So your role even if you feel desperate, this is one of those you got to fake it till you make it. Because even if you feel desperate, I mean it’s Friday night, it’s Saturday, and people have been canceling. You cannot, when you’re talking to people, express desperation. You have to express optimism, up, opportunity, and mission.

Jonathan Hardy 8:47
Yeah, that’s good.

Tip #6: View Recruiting as Fun

Dick Hardy 8:47
And, you know, the last one I want to throw by you is to view recruiting as fun. You probably can tell from Jonathan I, we have fun doing this. We have fun doing this. We have fun doing ministry. And recruiting is fun. Now, you might be in a mindset that says, “Man I’ve asked people to do things and they tell me No.” Okay, well, it comes with the territory. Yeah, listen gray hair. I’ve been around a day or two, it comes with the territory.

Jonathan Hardy 9:11
Just a few!

Dick Hardy 9:13
It’s gonna happen. Some people are going to tell you no. Don’t worry about that. You just go on to the next person. Now, of course, we’re going to talk in future episodes about the whole business of recruiting and the strategy of doing that, but you’ve got to view it as fun. If someone comes to me, and they’re excited about something they want me to do, they are way more likely to get me to say yes, because they’re excited. You’ve got to view it as fun, and you’ll get more volunteers and your volunteers will thrive when you have a fun environment.

Jonathan Hardy 9:47
Yeah, that’s good. And we’re going to talk more about this in Episode Number 12. So you want to be staying tuned to that when we talk about the eight step process to recruiting volunteers. So right now we’re talking about general thoughts on building the volunteer core, but we’re going to dive a little bit deeper into an eight step process to recruit people, because there are some things you can do that are going to really help people. And so you want to make sure to stay tuned to that.


Let’s do a quick recap of these six things. So we’re talking about the six tips to increase your churches volunteer core. The first is to elevate volunteers to the highest value. Second, ask big. Third, ask right. Fourth, be real. Number five, don’t be desperate. And then number six, view recruiting as fun. So hopefully this has been helpful for you. One of the things that we want to do throughout this is to be able to just challenge you to lead better to lead bigger and to make a bigger difference in the church and the community that you’re leading. And so one of the ways you can do that is to take the five day leadership challenge for pastors if you have not yet done that we want to encourage you to do so you can just go to Leaders.Church/challenge. Take the five days, it’s five days, 15 minutes a day. A video of Dick and Jonathan, and all we’re doing is teaching on some different elements to help you lead better and make a bigger difference in your community and in your church. No cost. It is free to take it. Just go to Leaders.Church/challenge.

And also if you haven’t subscribed yet, be sure to subscribe on whatever channel you’re viewing this on. Whether it’s on YouTube, whether it’s a podcast that you’re listening to, whatever it is, make sure to subscribe. And we want to thank you so much for joining us today. We’ll look forward to seeing you next time. Until then take care and be blessed.

Dick Hardy 11:31
Be blessed.

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