Building teams of volunteers to accomplish the mission of God in the local church can feel like a challenge. For some of us, recruiting people to specific tasks is just downright hard. Yet, serving is a way for us to worship God through our time and talents and it’s a powerful part of discipleship.
I have been fortunate enough to work at a church where serving is deeply embedded in the culture. While working in this environment, I have learned a few things that have brought me some success in recruiting people and building teams. As I have shared with others about these lessons, it seems to boil down to four key elements.
1. Walking Slowly
I learned if I was going to build a strong team or recruit people into serving around the church, I was going to have to meet and get to know as many of them as possible. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Yet it is easy, especially during weekend services, to put all your energy in getting things done, leaving no room for small talk with the folks attending church. We must walk slowly through the crowd and start meeting people to have any chance of helping them grow in their walk with God.
2. Knowing the True Heartbeat
I had to understand the big picture of recruiting before I was able to do it well. If we are calling people to accomplish a task as the primary thrust and heartbeat, we have missed the point. This flaw will come out in our asking. The heartbeat of recruiting volunteers is providing an opportunity for them to grow in their connection with Christ. When I ask people into serving, in my heart I know I am inviting them into something really good and beneficial for them. Regardless of the task, serving is a normal part of learning how to follow Jesus.
3. Sharing Compelling Vision
Once you establish friendship with people and you want to invite them in serving, you need something to invite them into. When we invite from a place of needing help, most people won’t really perk up and commit. We are all inundated with needs every day. Needs don’t move us much. Vision is different. If we can share God’s heart for what we are doing in a concise and compelling way, those that are actually called to do it will sign up. I have worked at crafting a few thoughtful sentences to describe the beauty and goodness of what we are doing. Then, when I talk with people it comes out naturally. If I have shared compelling vision well and someone doesn’t respond to an invitation, that tells me they probably aren’t called to participate in the task.
4. Making Meaningful Relationships
We all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, but we also want to feel appreciated and cared for, too. As I work with volunteers, I intentionally ask them about their life, their work, and where they are at with Jesus. Then I use that information to care for them as any friend would. People may come because of compelling vision, but they will stay engaged because of meaningful relationship and discipleship.
Though some people are more naturally gifted at these things than others, I’m convinced if we work hard at honing these skills, we will be able to recruit better and build teams that last. Instead of shying away, I encourage you to press in and practice, practice, practice.
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Joshua Pickett and his wife Laurie have been on a journey of discovery, joy, and pain as they have leaned into following Jesus. They are regular folks who have been captured by God’s heart. Their goal in life is to learn how to love God with all they are and then to give that away to anyone who will receive it. Joshua is on staff at the Vineyard Church in Duluth, MN. He is currently finishing up his BA in biblical studies and hopes to go on to graduate school and work on a MAT. He loves hanging out with his wife, CrossFit, and you can usually find him on his day off cooking up a big pot of some seriously good food.