On any given Sunday, it can be heard from thousands of pulpits in churches of every size, “We need workers, we need workers, we need workers, we need workers, WE NEED WORKERS!” Wouldn’t it be nice if recruiting workers were like a game of Red Rover? You remember, “Red rover, red rover, send workers right over!” It would be nice if it were that easy. I have had the privilege of working at some wonderful churches of different sizes, and the one thing they have all had in common was that I was always on the lookout for more workers. The truth is, the bigger the vision, the more people serving and helping it takes to make that vision reality.
Three Dog Night taught me something valuable years ago: “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do!” The ministry was never designed to be done by only a select few. Our mission found in Matthew 28:19 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” That’s a big job that calls for a great team. The Bible says Jesus had the Spirit of God without measure, yet the first thing He did when He started His earthly ministry was to recruit help. If Jesus needed help, you and I need truckloads of it.
Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others also.” In this verse, we see four groups of people taking the message of the gospel to others. Paul taught Timothy, Timothy taught reliable men, who were to teach others also. In thirty years of building teams of volunteers, this is what I’ve realized: “People need to be needed more than you and I need the help.” Raising up volunteers that stick is a win-win for the local church and for the individual!
Encourage your team to recruit others. Jesus allowed His team to recruit two of the twelve. I shouldn’t have to say this to people in the ministry, but be touchable, available, and friendly. I’m on the lookout for potential workers at church, special meetings, Starbucks, Sam’s Club—in fact, I’m on the lookout for workers everywhere I go.
Identify giftings you are looking for and be watchful for people who display them. Look for people who vocationally manage people. Look within your organization for people to promote; your answer to your need for workers isn’t always someone from the outside. Pray team members in. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Be specific—make a list of what you need and want. If people were no problem, where could you use a worker? Make sure you qualify all candidates. I require potential volunteers to complete an application, submit references, allow us to do a criminal background check if they are working with minors, and conduct an interview.
Once you’ve located them and qualified each candidate, here are twenty things I believe you need to do to cultivate volunteers that stick in your ministry.