Leader Recruitment Nuts and Bolts

Finding enough leaders is a challenge. With the strategies I mentioned in Small Group Leaders: Finding, Recruiting, Developing, you’ll find the leaders you need. What you do with them next is very important. Here are some of the most important nuts and bolts of successful leader recruitment:

  1. Determine your leadership requirements in advance. It may help to think of leader requirements like a continuum with very strict requirements on one end and very loose requirements on the other end. Some churches insist on Jesus Jr. Some churches require some level of membership. Others, recognizing the value of lowering the bar (to include the exponential impact of the crowd), require only that the leader/host candidate attend the orientation and fill their own group. Simply determine where your church needs to be along the continuum and pre-determine what it takes. Then adjust your strategy accordingly.
  2. Right after developing your leadership requirements, develop a written leader recruitment process. Think through the process step by step. Include every event and every communication. Develop the letter and email templates in advance. Script what you’d like your initial phone call to include. Detail at this point allows you to focus on excellent delivery when you’re in the middle of a campaign.
  3. Provide an accurate FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) handout. Depending on the recruitment strategy, this can be a handout in a leader’s packet, available at the small group ministry table in the lobby, on your website, or all three. The key is to think through and include the questions that need to be answered. Here is one that I developed for our One Month To Live campaign.
  4. In addition to the FAQ, communicate thoroughly and promptly every step along the way. That means send a letter (and email) confirming their sign-up and follow up the letter with a phone call. Over communicating is an essential practice. A great way to provide first contact with an assigned coach is for the coach to make the call.
  5. Make attending the New Leader Orientation a requirement. I’ve detailed where the orientation fits in the HOST and Connection strategies. Where it fits depends on the method you’re using. It’s important to require attendance for several reasons. (a) It’s a hoop that you control, (b) you can always waive the requirement for exceptional candidates, and (c) it provides a face-to-face meeting.
  6. In many cases you will want to include a questionnaire (application) for the prospective leaders to complete and turn in. Here’s an example of one that I’ve used.

These are some of the most important nuts and bolts of effective leader recruitment. But…it’s not an exhaustive list. You need to develop your own process. Debrief after every use and adjust accordingly. Remember, there is no problem-free method. Wise leaders simply choose the problems they’d rather have. The key here is to leverage these ideas (and your own) to provide a better experience for leaders (and members).  

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Mark Howell
Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. He founded SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services to help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He spent four years on the consulting staff at Lifetogether and often contributes to ministry periodicals such as the Pastor's Ministry Toolbox and ChurchCentral.com.

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