Recruiting Volunteers for Christian Ministries

Effective recruitment of volunteer church and ministry workers depends on what you believe about:

Until you settle these questions in your mind, you may fall prey to rationalization, laziness, haphazardness, and sloppiness in the way you recruit. Then you will find yourself frustrated or flustered, wondering why people won't help. You may use methods that arm-twist people into serving. You may resort to manipulating them through the use of a guilt trip or bribery. You may find yourself throwing up your arms in despair and either doing it yourself or overworking the faithful few.

To be sure, these are difficult days for people responsible for staffing volunteers for ministry. The busyness, dysfunction, and stresses of people's lives seems to be higher than ever. Rather than give up, it calls for leaders to all the more reexamine their philosophy of ministry and line up with God's strategies. We must be purposeful. We must be relentless. We must be determined to exercise practices that truly encourage everyone to do their part. For more, read: Why Can't the Church Recruit Volunteers?

Staffing God's Way - How He Recruits Workers

God chose to use people to accomplish His work. In the beginning, however, when God created the heavens and the earth, He said "Let there be . . ." and it was so (Gen 1). If God could bring into existence all of creation simply by the spoken word, certainly He does not need people to do His work. Yet, from the beginning, God called people to work in cooperation with Him. To Adam and Eve He said, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over . . . " (Gen. 1:28). God even let Adam name the animals. Throughout Scripture we find examples of God using people to accomplish His work. In Ephesians 4:16 God gives us His blueprint for the growth and building up of the church which is that everybody does their part. Further, people are commanded to serve.

question to ask about church staffing
Why then do we make excuses for people and fail to hold them accountable? Why do we act like serving is optional?

God has empowered people to do His work through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in their lives. He gives all believers spiritual gifts to enable them to do the task(s) He wants them to do. God's objective is that we be instruments of His grace to other people in specific ways through the use of the gifts He has given (1 Pet. 4:9-11). Regarding the various gifts of the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:11 says, "All these are the work of the one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one just as he determines." God is intentional in His distribution of the gifts. He planned it so we all fit together in a way that each person's contribution matters.

Why do we take the attitude that anybody will do for certain areas of ministry? Why do we use people in ministries for which they are not gifted? Why do we overwork the faithful few expecting them to do it all?
question to ask about church staffing

God did not sit back and wait for people to volunteer. He often went to extraordinary measures to recruit workers. God used a burning bush to get Moses' attention. He used a storm and a big fish to emphasize to Jonah that he was serious about him going to Nineveh. It wasn't until after Isaiah saw a vision of the Lord on His throne that he said, "Here am I. Send me!" Paul accepted the call of God in his life after hearing the Lord's voice in a blinding light.

Jesus met common, ordinary people where they were in calling the twelve disciples. Simon Peter and Andrew were "casting a net into the lake" when Jesus said, "Come, follow me" (Matt. 4:18-19). James and John "were in a boat with their father" (Matt. 4:21). Matthew was "sitting at the tax collector's booth (Matt. 9:9).

question to ask about church staffing
Why do we rely on an announcement from the pulpit? Why do we expect people to respond to a note in the bulletin or church newsletter? Why aren't we willing to go the extra mile in our recruiting efforts?

God sees every ministry as important.  In the parable of the talents, the servant with the least was accountable to use what he was given as well as the one with the most (Matt. 25:14-30). The part each person has to do is paralleled to the interdependent working of all the parts of the human body. "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!' On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it" (1 Cor. 12:21-26).

Why do we de-emphasize the significance of the job through our pleas of desperation? Why do we communicate a lack of importance by using haphazard recruiting techniques? Why do we fail to consistently show appreciation for what people do?
question to ask about church staffing

Using God as our model for the recruitment process may drastically change the way we recruit. It will also make a difference in the results. Looking at Jesus' life on this earth will give us perspective. Not everyone responded to His call. Some were rather antagonistic. Did that stop Him? No. He continued to do the work the Father had given Him to do.
Be faithful in following God's ways. Leave the results to Him. Use the results to guide you in where to go from there. Heed the exhortation Jesus gave to His disciples as He looked over the sea of human need, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field" (Matt. 9:35-38).

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