6 Ways to Recruit More Volunteers

If you’re a church that’s trying to grow, it’s really difficult to find enough volunteers to fuel the vision that God has given you. I know this because I’ve lived it. One of my first roles in the church I serve was the role of volunteer coordinator. I took on the role as we were transitioning from a small 2,000 square foot rental space to a 7,200 square foot permanent facility. The added space was awesome. We were going to be able to provide a much better worship experience; however, we also needed a lot more volunteers to make it happen, a position that many of you probably find yourself in.

During that time, I remember writing letters to 72 individuals in the church, sharing the pastor’s vision with them and how they could help us accomplish it.

Luckily, they all said yes, and once we moved into our new building, our church grew like crazy.

Today, the church I serve has close to 300 volunteers spread across two campuses. These volunteers may serve as much as every week or as little as once a month. They serve in the children’s ministry, in our café, in the parking lot, on the stage, and in countless other ways. And they’re a huge reason why our church has continued to grow.

I wish I could say we have plenty of volunteers, but the truth is when you have a big vision from God, you’ll probably never have enough volunteers. Just this week I received a message from a volunteer asking to be taken off the schedule because they’re now working on Sundays. Unfortunately, this sort of thing occurs all the time.

This is why, if you want your church to grow, you have to constantly be recruiting volunteers. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but I have learned some ways to make it easier.

  1. Create a culture of serving. I cannot emphasize this one enough. It’s imperative if you want to be successful. You need to create a culture were serving is the norm, and it’s not just something the spiritually elite do. It’s something everyone does because everyone has been called to serve. The first church I ever went to, I attended for three years, and no one ever asked me to serve. I was a young Christian passionate about serving and yet never got the opportunity. That should never happen.
  2. Offer opportunities and not needs. You have to be very careful about how you talk about serving. People respond to invitations and opportunities, but rarely do they respond to needs. You should never say, “We need more volunteers in the nursery.” You should say, “We have a great opportunity for someone to love on some babies, so their parents can hear God’s word.” A shift in your language can actually shift the culture. We don’t want people feeling like they’re guilted into serving. We want them to feel like they’re making a difference in someone’s life, because they are.
  3. Recruit in the lobby, not from the stage. Recruiting one on one is a lot more successful than making a plea from the stage. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask people to serve from the stage, but you should always combine it with personal conversations. Keep in mind, you shouldn’t be the only one recruiting. A healthy serving culture has every volunteer recruiting other volunteers.
  4. Get people plugged in quickly. Another mistake that we’ve made, and I see many other churches make is taking too long to get someone plugged in. Once someone says they want to start serving, you need to get them on a schedule within the next two weeks. There might be some exceptions, if they have to go through a background check or want to play on the worship team, for example, but in most cases, don’t wait to get them started. The longer you wait, the greater chance that they change their mind or forget all about it.
  5. Don’t give up too easily. Not everyone is going to want to serve. You’re going to get some no’s. You’re also going to get some people who say, “Let me pray about it,” which is usually a more “Christian” version of no. However, you shouldn’t take that as meaning no forever. Sometimes people are in seasons in which they can’t serve. Sometimes people don’t want to commit. There are lots of reasons people may say no. Don’t be afraid to come back to them six months to a year down the road and ask again. Many times you’ll find their answer will change.
  6. Check to make sure they’re enjoying it. One of the worst things you can do is get someone signed up to serve and then forget about them. Set up a reminder to follow up with them after the first time they serve, then again a few weeks later. Make sure it’s a good fit, and they’re enjoying it. This communicates that you care about them and gives you the opportunity to move them to another spot if they’re not. The better you care for them, the more likely they are to recruit others to volunteer.

Recruiting volunteers is an ongoing process for every pastor I know. What would you add to this list? What have you found that works? Leave a comment below, and also if you enjoy tips on leadership and growing your small town church, make sure to subscribe.

15 Reasons Your Next Hire Should Be Administrative

Growing up in a small town, I had a few different ideas on what my future occupation would be. In elementary school, I wanted to be a mailman. In middle school, I wanted to be in the NBA. And in high school, I wanted to create video games. After college, somehow I ended up being unemployed, then working for a call center, then paying bills for a company, and eventually driving a truck full of explosives, which as most of you know, is a natural progression towards full-time ministry.

I actually never imagined working in ministry. Growing up in a small town with mostly smaller churches, the senior pastor was lucky to be getting paid. On rare occasions, if a church was doing well financially, they might give the youth pastor $50 a week.

But no one had ever given a thought to hiring a full-time administrator. Yet, somehow I convinced a board of elders to do just that. It probably helped that I agreed to work for almost nothing.

Since the time of my hire, the church I serve has tripled in size, we’ve made a few more hires, and we even opened a second campus.

I also got a raise and a new title, executive pastor.

The hire has worked out pretty good for the church, and I’m certainly not complaining either. I’ve been able to use the administrative gifts God has given me to make a pretty big impact on my small town.

So, I just want to encourage you to think about your next hire, or even volunteer position. Consider the value of someone who has strong administrative gifts. Someone whose strengths may be your weaknesses. Someone who can complement your leadership.

Here are just a few of the things they could do for you and your church.

  1. They can be someone you can confide in. Someone you can trust. Someone who can help bear your burdens.
  2. They can take care of ordering office supplies, cleaning supplies, coffee, creamer, sugar, trash bags, and light bulbs. The list goes on and on.
  3. They can create and update your bulletin and connection card. They can follow up with first-time guests who fill out a connection card. They can also follow up with those who want to get plugged in or take a next step.
  4. They can maintain your website and social media presence.
  5. They can count and enter contributions, send weekly thank you cards to givers, and print and mail contribution statements each year.
  6. They can encourage you and others.
  7. They can help with sermon prep.
  8. They can recruit, schedule, and train volunteers.
  9. They can pay the church bills and handle benevolence requests.
  10. They can help create the church budget and provide monthly financial statements.
  11. They can lead and equip other volunteers to use their gifts.
  12. They can answer the office phone and take messages.
  13. They can take notes during important meetings and provide them to everyone who attends.
  14. They can oversee everything that happens on the weekend, so you (the pastor) can concentrate on the sermon.
  15. They can type up your sermon notes, as long as you write so they can read it.

This list could go on and on. The bottom line is, an administrative person enjoys doing a lot of the things you hate, which frees you up to do more of the stuff you love. And if you find the right administrator and work together, you can see your church grow very quickly.

Do you currently have an administrative role at your church? In what ways has it benefited the church? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and if you ever need any help knowing what your next move should be, check out my coaching page to find out how I could serve you and your church.

Seven People You Should Fire Today

I’ve been pretty lucky in ministry. Over the years I’ve only had to fire a handful of staff and volunteers. It’s the least enjoyable part of my job but also one of the most important. And if you’re a pastor, it’s one of your most important jobs. Allowing a person to continue in a role that they shouldn’t be in is incredibly harmful to a church. I see this happen over and over again, especially in small town churches. This needs to stop.

If you’re a pastor who has the power to fire someone and you’re allowing this to happen, then you need to put your “big boy britches on” (Southern Term) and have that conversation.

If you’re a pastor serving in a church that doesn’t allow you to have that power, I feel your pain. Still, you need to do everything you can to convince everyone who needs convincing to let that person go.

If that still doesn’t work, your best bet is to try to convince them to quit. Worst-case scenario: it backfires on you, and you get fired. But hey, now you can go to a church that actually trusts its pastor to make decisions that are best for the church.

If you’re having trouble deciding on who should be fired, let me give you some people I would strongly consider.

  1. The Troublemaker – This person always seems to be in the middle of drama. They create problems, instead of solutions. You constantly have to mediate between them and the latest person they ticked off. If it was one time, you can show them grace. If it’s ongoing, then you better fire them because I guarantee they’re running people off from the church.
  2. The Big Talker – These people can talk the talk but never seem to walk the walk. They make promises they never keep. They may talk super spiritual, but they never actually get anything done. And they always have an excuse.
  3. The Unqualified – I’m afraid the only qualification needed in many churches is popularity. When churches take it upon themselves to vote people into important positions within the church, we shouldn’t be surprised when they fail. It takes a lot more than being popular to lead a ministry. If they can’t or won’t do what’s required of the position, then they need to be fired.
  4. The Faker – In the history of the church I serve, we’ve only had to fire one person because of character issues. That’s one more than I would’ve liked to. They put on a good show and a good face, and we fell for it. I wish we’d fired them at the first sign of character fail. Unfortunately, we gave them a second chance, and they failed again. You better be really careful with this one because not dealing with it early can come back to bite you.
  5. The Unsocial – Ministry is relational at its core. Almost everything we do is for people, with people, and about people. If you don’t love people, you probably don’t need to be leading, because we’re in the people business.
  6. The Entitled – Be leery of those who think they deserve a position. It could be because of their last name or because of the money they give to the church. They will cause you problems, and if you’re not careful, you’ll be the one looking for another church.
  7. The Unteachable – Out of all of these, this one may bother me the most. Here’s why, I’ve had to let really good people go because they just refused to be teachable. People who had tons of potential but didn’t want to listen. I wish I could say that these people could change, but I don’t think they can. If you have someone on your team that doesn’t want to listen to anything you say, it’s best not to waste your breath and just let them go.

What type of people would you add to this list? Are you able to fire people in your church, why or why not? I’d love to hear your comments. Also, while you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to get my new Ebook “The Basics: 13 Steps to Turn Around Your Small Town Church.”