Recruiting Volunteers

I recently surveyed a number of leaders, asking what they would say are some of the biggest challenges they are facing in ministry today. One of the top three answers was the challenge of recruiting and keeping volunteers. It seems like people are either too busy or not interested in volunteering in church ministries.

While it may appear that people are busy, I believe that people are interested in giving of their time and energy, but as leaders, you have to figure out how you can best inspire your followers to want to volunteer their time and energy.

One thing you cannot afford to do is to hold to the belief that if people are really serious about following Jesus, they will volunteer for the work of the ministry where needed. In many cases the people are serious, devout followers of Jesus, but they are discouraged by the manner in which some leaders go about recruiting volunteers.

The following are some suggestions that will help you as a leader to recruit and keep volunteers.

Be very clear about what you want the volunteer to do. To say you need youth workers or helpers in the nursery really does nothing to get people’s attention to volunteer. Be specific with the task you need the volunteer to do. What task do you need the volunteer in the youth department to do? What do you need the person in the nursery to do? When people know exactly what the needs are, then they are better able to know if it fits their strengths and talents.

Provide training and mentoring where needed. Nothing discourages people from volunteering like being asked to do something and not being trained to do it, while being expected to do it right from the start. This of course raises the issue of timing. As much as you can avoid it, try not to put your volunteer on the job without adequate training. You may think you need them right away, but you will do more harm than good to put them on the job without proper training.

Be very clear on exactly what is entailed in carrying out the responsibility they are being asked to take on and what the outcomes should look like. People like to know what is expected of them and exactly what outcomes they are working toward. Exactly what do you want the volunteer in the nursery to do; and when he does those things, what should the outcomes be? When people know these things they can be confident and more likely to want to volunteer.

Do not abandon your volunteers. To avoid this, there two things you want to do. One is to ask them to volunteer for a period of time. In that way, they don’t feel like it is a life sentence. Ask them to volunteer for three, six, or nine months, or one year at a time. Putting a time period on volunteering keeps people from feeling abandoned.
The second thing is, check in with your volunteers from time to time to see how they are doing. Ask them how things are working out, or if there is anything they need? And of course, acknowledging their work. Thank them for giving of their time and energy. During the check in times, you may inquire if they are willing to serve for an additional period of time.

I am sure there are many more things you can do that would help you recruit and retain your volunteers. My goal here was to get you to start thinking intentionally about how you go about asking people to volunteer and to offer you some suggestions to start that process.

Some of you may have other suggestions that have worked rather well for you. Why not hop over to my Facebook page and share some of your ideas with other leaders like yourself as a means of encouraging them.

If you would like help in achieving your goals as a leader or in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.