Recruiting Volunteers as a Church Planter
If there’s one thing that church planters never need, it’s quality, committed, and invested volunteers…
Thanks, we practiced that one all weekend.
To state the obvious, finding volunteers that are capable and talented, as well as invested in the church’s mission is incredibly difficult. Talk to any church planter (or any church for that matter) and you’re sure to hear about the difficulty of finding and maintaining quality volunteers. It’s rare that any church ever feels they have “enough” volunteers, so if that’s where you’re at, you’re far from alone.
Church Planters: Tips for Recruiting Volunteers
It should go without saying that your first source for volunteer recruitment is your own congregation. But if you’re having difficulty getting members to step up and volunteer for key positions, there are a few ways you can approach the topic to encourage a participation-mindset in your church attenders. Here are some of our tips:
1) “Shepherding” Volunteers
One of the cardinal mistakes of pastoral volunteer management is distancing themselves from their volunteers. Many church planters assume that volunteers want to feel autonomous, independent, and carry out their tasks without feeling “micromanaged”. And while that’s partially true, volunteers usually step into roles out of their commitment to their church and most importantly, the pastor’s vision.
While volunteers are leaders, they themselves want to feel lead by their pastor. Volunteers need to be invested-in by someone in order to invest-in others. In other words, be a leader to your volunteers. Prepare them for everything they are doing, make sure they feel respected, meet with them on a scheduled and consistent basis to get updates and offer advice, and educate them on their roles. This type of leadership of leaders helps to encourage a “volunteer culture” at a church when adopted from the start.
2) Actually Ask People
Those of us who have grown up in the church are all-too-expectant of people to just “step up to the plate” and volunteer. Unfortunately, as a church planter, you seldom have the luxury of options.
If people aren’t stepping into a volunteer role on their own, you may have to start asking around. Reach out to those you know and trust. You know the qualities and personality traits needed for each respective role in the church, and as a church planter, you more-than-likely know your congregation well. So, start asking people you trust! The simple act of personally reaching out to a member may be all they were waiting for before stepping into a leadership role.
3) Nearby Churches
There’s definitely a right and wrong way to approach this. But for church planters especially, you don’t just need “volunteers” – you need natural leaders. People who can take on responsibilities and run with them. Unfortunately, the chances aren’t high for finding a ton of these people in the congregation of a church that’s just starting out.
However, local churches often have volunteers who are looking for “more” from a leadership perspective, and what better place to find that than a new church plant? If you are planning on “recruiting” volunteers from local churches, it’s always a good idea to search for volunteers through the pastor. That way, you’re not starting off on a bad foot with your neighbors while simultaneously getting an inside perspective on great candidates for various church-planting-related volunteer needs.
To Close It Out
Finding volunteers is tricky. As a church planter, you’re not afforded the luxury of a bottomless pool of quality, committed members to pick from. But you’re new and likely have more on your plate than most local pastors, which is all the reason to begin recruiting a team of incredible volunteers.
If you need to expand your church planting team, or just recruit volunteers for various ministries within your church, start by encouraging a “volunteer culture” at your church through continuously shepherding and leading your volunteers. Invest in them so they can invest in others. If you’re struggling to find volunteers who can step up to the plate, start actually asking members if they’d like to volunteer. Don’t wait idly for something to happen. As another option, reach out to local pastors and ask if they have any church volunteers/attenders who are looking for leadership opportunities. They may just have the right person to help lead your church startup effort!
About the Author
Chris Fleming is a professional musician from Minneapolis, MN who has played with artists such as Big Daddy Weave and Jason Gray. He is actively involved with the CCM worship scene and has contributed as a drummer, music director, song writer, and producer for various worship artists and churches locally and nationally.
Chris serves as the Creative Director at Motion Worship, helping to write various blog posts and tutorials on production, stage, Ableton, music, design, and tons of other topics.