The "R" Word

by Bre Hallberg

Don’t say the “r” word. You know, the one used to describe the part of ministry that leaves you lying awake at night . . . recruiting.

Question! How many times a year do you recruit volunteers? If we lived in an ideal world, we would say, we don’t need to recruit, we have people coming to us constantly, begging to be part of our ministry, right?

Yeah, right.

Okay, but have you ever thought about how many volunteers you have actually recruited, and how many have stayed? I mean, there are circumstances that can’t be helped: people move, people are called into other areas, people just really don’t want to be there—okay, maybe that could be helped.

Can you imagine how many volunteers you would have, if all the ones you recruited actually stayed?

So, why aren’t your volunteers staying?

I recently read an article from the Gallup Business Journal entitled, How Employees’ Strengths Make Your Company Stronger.

“When employees feel that their company cares and encourages them to make the most of their strengths, they are more likely to respond with increased discretionary effort, a stronger work ethic, and more enthusiasm and commitment.”

According to a study that Gallup conducted, managers play a critical role on whether employees feel engaged in their job.

The study suggests that “if every company in America trained its managers to focus on employees’ strengths, the U.S. could easily double the number of engaged employees in the workplace.”

Can you imagine? Twice as many volunteers! Yes, please!

“A supervisor’s approach to strengths has such a profound effect on engagement because managers play a crucial role in maximizing employees’ opportunities to use their strengths every day. Managers can empower employees to discover and develop their strengths and position them in roles where they can do what they do best every day.”

As a leader, you have the opportunity to help the people in your ministry become engaged in a way that not only uses their strengths, but in turn has kingdom potential.You may do an incredible job casting vision to your volunteers, but are you helping your volunteers identify their strengths and use them to the best of their ability?

Here are a few ways to get started:

There are a lot of assessments out there that can help.

Gallup recommends the Clifton Strengthsfinder (

Marcus Buckingham wrote two great books called Now, Discover Your Strengths and StandOut,which not only help you identify your own strengths, but also the strengths of your volunteers and employees. You can find book previews for both of these books in the Stuff Leaders Want library.

Ask questions!

Sometimes just taking the time to ask your volunteers how things are going, makes all the difference. Ask them what they are excited about, and what is draining them. You will be amazed at the answers! There are some people who would love to sit and cut 100 circles for you, there are others that would love to be on stage telling the Bible story, and still others that would love to rock babies, or sit with a group of 14-year-old girls and dive into the questions they are asking about their faith.

Just think, we have the opportunity to invite people to be a part of something that is eternally significant. We can help people see that they were created with strengths and abilities that God can use in ways they never dreamed of.

“Imagine what would happen in our world if hundreds of thousands of people—and eventually millions—decided to devote just a few hours each week to generating a wave of good works that would put faith into action and spread goodwill and alleviate suffering. Imagine if every church and every charitable organization were suddenly inundated with enthusiastic, skilled, loving volunteers who plan, serve, and pray to see a bit more of heaven happening on plant earth. Just imagine!” —Bill Hybels