Every children’s ministry leader know the “R” word, right? RECRUITING! It’s the greatest challenge in what we do. Unfortunately, many of us do it wrong. We beg instead of invite. Assign instead of place. Worst of all, we often hope instead of pray.
And we often drop the ball in some pretty significant areas. Here are a few ideas to help us not drop the ball:
- RE:late … don’t just recruit. Ministry happens best through relationships. To connect with someone for the sole purpose of recruiting somewhat cheapens the ministry aspect. So connect for the purpose of relationships, not just recruiting. When we do this, we not only open the door for the person to serve, but we also open the door for the person to be ministered to, for friendship, for leadership development and so much more.
- RE:think mass appeals. The “stickiness” of mass appeal (think “big push in the main service”) is typically minimal. By that I mean that it’s relatively easy to get a lot of people to fill out a card, but the follow-through is usually not very good. Why? Perhaps it goes back to #1. I would rather my leaders spend time building relationships than creating a mass appeal campaign.
- RE:spond to questions. One of the big reasons people don’t serve is a false understanding of what is being required. They are intimidated by what they think they will be asked to do. Encouraging and responding to questions they might have is essential to clarifying expectations and having them make an informed decision about committing.
- RE:turn communication appropriately. I know a family that offered to serve as a family (that’s two adults and two youth!) at the Christmas services of their church. They filled out a form specifically asking for volunteers at Christmas … and got no response. They offered again at Easter—and got an email four days before Easter. Do you think they served at either service? No. And they probably won’t offer again. If there is any indication a person is willing to serve, appropriate follow-up communication (via phone or in person, if possible) IS your priority.
- RE:design roles to meet gifts and abilities. Most of us have “cookie cutter” ministry descriptions. These are great, but rarely do they match a person’s gifts and abilities perfectly. I want a person serving in a role that maximizes their strengths. Their service will be more effective and I am more likely to keep them! So flex a little and be willing to redefine roles. (BTW … this means you have to have a method for finding out gifts and abilities in the screening process).
- RE:fuse to “guilt” a person into serving or staying. I trust that a person is walking with the Lord, and if they conclude that they are not sensing God’s leading them to serve in children’s ministry or to stay in children’s ministry, then heaven forbid I try and make them feel guilty in order to get them in or keep them. I will ask questions to find out why they won’t commit or continue—often it’s because of a misconception or an issue that can be solved—but I will never attempt to make them feel guilty.
- RE:move problem leaders. Yes, it’s OK to “fire” a volunteer! That’s a separate post with much involved and obviously has to be done lovingly and appropriately. However, I include it here because it bothers me, as I work with churches around the country, to continually hear leaders whine about volunteers who are resistant to change, or gossips, or actively engaged in undermining the vision that’s been adopted, or in some other way engaging in creating problems. If you have been given responsibility for Children’s Ministry, then it is as much your responsibility to weed out problems as it is to bring in the harvest.
- BONUS TIP-RE:enlist leaders. The best method of recruiting is retaining the leaders you have. Pro-actively creating methods for equipping, solving problems, communicating effectively and re-enlisting volunteers is vital.