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After 12 years of ministry, I haven’t found a person who said they got into ministry because they love volunteer recruitment and management! Sure, some church leaders possess the skills needed to recruit, train, and retain volunteers, but most leaders struggle to find leaders to serve.

Below are three tips to help you recruit more volunteers. Obviously, this isn’t a promise that if you follow these three suggestions you will have more volunteers than you know what to do with. Don’t forget that even Jesus struggled to find servants to join in on His mission (Matthew 9:35-38). These tips won’t magically increase your volunteer team, but they will help you clarify your message and communicate how someone can join your team and serve middle schoolers.

1. Communicate Opportunities Not Needs
Churches are famous for announcing that they need “three more people” to serve in a specific area. While this is the easiest way to communicate that you are short on workers, this approach doesn’t lead you to find the right volunteers for your area. When we communicate needs based off of numbers, we condition our people to only pay attention when we throw a number around. What happens if we don’t communicate that we need three people the next week? People assume that three people stepped up and that there is no longer a need. Instead of communicating the number of open spots we need to communicate the specific opportunities that are available in our ministries. People have a hard time viewing themselves as a number, but they are able to see themselves stepping into an opportunity that fits.

2. Have a specific role in mind for your volunteers
What are the specific times, responsibilities, and expectations of your volunteers? It is important to establish what opportunities exist in our ministry before we ask for help. Our middle and high school ministries have a variety of service opportunities that require specific skills. We have Midweek worship teams, Midweek leaders, and small group leaders. Each have their own job description, so a leader knows what is expected of them before they sign up to serve.

3. Give your volunteer a test drive in the new role
Why do you test drive a new car before you buy it? You want to make sure that you are comfortable with the new machine. Your volunteers want the same type of assurance and comfort when they serve in your ministry. Let’s face it, middle school ministry isn’t for everyone, and most adults are terrified of middle schoolers like they are gremlins or something. We know middle school is an incredible phase of life where deep discipleship can happen. People want to see what they are doing before they jump in. Help them connect with your ministry by offering a “first-step” to see how you operate. Help your new volunteer ease into the role by telling them that they can visit for a few weeks and that you will circle back to see what questions they have and if it is a fit for their team.

– Chase Snyder

Discussion Questions:
1. How can we do a better job communicating service opportunities for our ministry?
2. How many different ways can a volunteer serve in our ministry? What are the specific roles, requirements, and expectations for each area?
3. What is the best “first-step” into our ministry for a new volunteer to understand who we are and how we minister to students?


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