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The Best Ways to Recruit New Volunteers

Recruiting is done on a regular basis. It never stops. For example, when you say you have a full band, the first question that comes to my mind is how many backups does that include? My impression is that you have just those band members and no backup players yet. Recruiting is such a vital practice that it’s worth going over the fundamentals.

Start with the purpose of your church. 
When I came to Saddleback 18 years ago, I didn’t think in terms of what kind of music program I could build. I came into the church asking why does this church exist, who are we trying to reach, what’s missing and what’s working? The goal of a church music ministry is not to sound like the latest popular live worship recording or to build a music conservatory. The goal is to support the philosophy of ministry of the senior pastor or leadership and the related strategies in place to fulfill the overall purposes of the church. It is important to choose wisely before starting to build. The old adage “measure twice, cut once” comes to mind. We don’t build for the fun of building or for the fulfillment that comes from the results of having a rich music ministry under our belt. It’s about our stewardship in service of our senior pastor.

Recruiting is not a duty that is reserved for the worship leader alone. Building the idea of inclusion into the minds of your team members is an essential part of recruiting. Inclusion is the philosophy that all are welcome to become part of the team. That assumes, of course, that they meet the core music ministry criteria of time availability, musical ability, spiritual focus and so on. When musicians understand the idea of inclusion, they will recruit for you. They are less likely to feel threatened when they grasp it. This may include a sacrifice of sitting out one week as part of the normal rotation so that others have a chance to be involved. As I’ve discussed in previous columns, rotation is a good thing for them and for the church as it gives them a rest and allows time for them to participate in the congregation, not just minister. “Good leadership is a channel of water controlled by God; he directs it to whatever ends he chooses,” Proverbs 21:1 (The Message). Musicians attract musicians. Sometimes you have to warm up the pipes to get the water flowing.

Assess First
Create opportunities for church members to incorporate their talents into the Body of Christ. Do an assessment of what talent IS available at your church rather than seeking specific talents. You never now who God has placed in your church until you ask. Brass, strings, flute … who knows? You may have half-a-dozen ukulele players! I believe that every congregation has a unique make up and, with leadership, it can develop its own sound, though there are certainly times when you might need to fill in holes with a paid player as I’ve mentioned in previous columns.

Where to recruit?
Should you go to local schools to recruit? I wouldn’t rule it out as a possible option, but it’s only one option in the net your music team members and ministry should be casting. Once you understand the purpose of your church and the senior pastor’s philosophy of ministry, then communicate that to the existing team and congregation. Ask them all to be on the lookout wherever they are. Musicians are everywhere. There is a lot of undiscovered potential in most churches and communities.

For additional input, I recommend Tony Guerrrero’s Attracting Quality Musicians: A Guidebook & Discussion for Worship Leaders, Music Directors & Pastors, which can be picked up from http://www.tonyguerrero.com

Starting and building a music ministry takes a lot of energy. Don’t get discouraged when you strike out in recruitment. Go back to the plate and keep swinging. You will hit red lights, but there’s always a green light coming up. Pastor Rick Warren used an illustration in the Worship From A to Z series that impacted me. Imagine you are on a plane flight. At takeoff, you stand up in the aisle and start flapping your arms up and down. The flight attendant walks toward you, “Can I help you?” You respond, “I’m fine. I’m just doing my part to make the plane fly.” After a while, your arms get tired. Remember that God is the one really flying the plane. We often look a bit silly standing in the aisle flapping our arms when we forget that, while we are commanded to work hard, it is not our hard work that brings results. God is flying the plane. Proverbs 21:31 says,”Do your best, prepare for the worst — then trust God to bring victory.” Happy hunting!  

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Rick Muchow is the Pastor of Worship at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA and has served faithfully there for 21 years. Rick has recorded 11 albums and has 84 songs registered with CCLI; he also authored The Worship Answer Book and is a contributing editor to Leadership journal. Rick offers resources and ministry support to the local church through his Web site, EncouragingMusic.com.