In the world of church, it seems there’s always more to do and not enough workers to get it done.
Ever heard these? “We have more volunteers than we know what to do with.” “We don’t have enough rockers in our nurseries for all the volunteers.” “We’ve had to tell junior high adult workers that some of them have to go home because there aren’t enough kids for their supervision.”
Why not? Because in the world of church there always seems to be more to do and not enough workers to get it done.
Let’s think about this. The mission we are about is the greatest on the planet; the opportunity to reach spiritually lost people with the gospel. That should be enough to generate all the workers ever needed. However, Jesus notes that “… the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.” So rather than beat yourself up because you don’t have enough volunteers, just acknowledge that it is the lay of the land. Then get to work recruiting!
In doing so, here are some thoughts for consideration.
- Have Value – Ever been asked to do something and end up asking yourself, “Why in the world am I doing this? What’s the point?” Pastor, you can never let that happen in your ministry. Everything you invest time in doing, whether high profile or low, must have value—and that value needs to be communicated to volunteers. Clean toilets have value not simply because you like clean porcelain but because those who use toilets are valuable to God and to you. Volunteers who clean them need to see this value.
- Ask Rightly – This becomes particularly acute when you are dealing with high-capacity volunteers. I remember once asking a high-capacity volunteer to hang a banner in a classroom. Could he do it? Not very well, because, although he told me he would do anything for the church, his gift set was in far different arenas than working with his hands. As far as I know, he never served the church again. I wasted the time and talent of a high-capacity volunteer because I did not ask rightly of him. Learn the gifts and talents of your volunteers before you ask. Then ask rightly of them to fit who they are.
- Ask Largely – People love challenges. Give them one! Learn the capacity of your volunteers and direct them as high as they can go. Be sure not to confuse this with somehow creating a “high-class” and “low-class” volunteer system. It is not. The widow in scripture is celebrated because she gave largely of her mite—the small portion she possessed. The multi-billion dollar businessman would not be celebrated for his mite. Why? Because it would not be a large gift for him. As is true for treasures, the same is true for talent. Recruit to the largest capacity of your volunteers. They will be more fulfilled in what they do for the church and the ministry will benefit.
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- Cast Big Vision – Who in the world wants to be part of something small and insignificant? There are certainly volunteers who have no interest in being front and center on the main stage, but even the smallest of ministry-visible tasks needs to be tied to Big Vision. Cast it!
- Don’t Be Phony – Be Real – You need the toilet cleaned but don’t create a disconnect by tying the task to something multiple separations away. Be real. Having a toilet cleaned by a volunteer does not correlate directly to a million dollars being raised for missions. So don’t tell them that. However, without many clean toilets it is almost certainly true that the church won’t raise a million dollars for missions—because people stop coming to places that don’t have clean toilets. Do tell them that. Don’t be phony. Be real.
- Don’t Be Desperate – A buddy of mine, Chris Mavity of formerly of North Coast Training (www.northcoasttraining.org) noted to me that it is critical the person (that would be you) asking a volunteer to join the team never be desperate. Whether you feel like it or not, you are not desperate. God has all the resources you need and it is your job to systematically walk through the process of recruiting. If you feel desperate, you’d better fake it ’til you make it!
- View Recruiting as Fun – You may say, “This is not even close to fun.” Then you either need to reframe what you are doing or get out of the business of ministry. The lifeblood of ministry is volunteers. Besides that, I read someplace that we are to be the equippers of the saints for goodness’ sake—my paraphrase. Look at recruiting as a challenge and as fun!
So what do you think? Is it worth it? Are the good people under your care worthy of recruiting to the greatest mission on Earth? You bet they are—and it is a high honor and privilege of yours to recruit them. In doing so you provide fulfillment of the call of God on their lives and you advance the ministry of the church.
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