Published: 3 years ago

10 Mistakes You’re Making When Recruiting Volunteers

If you’re in ministry, you live in the world of volunteers. The weekend (and the week) doesn’t happen without the people who work hard with no pay. But free labor doesn’t pop up easy. Here are ten mistakes you might be making when trying to get someone to join the team:

1. Using the word “recruit.” (Yes, I used it in this title. Hypocritical, huh?) Tim Stevens says that nobody likes to be recruited. Rather, invite a friend to join you in serving.

2. Focusing on need rather than opportunity. Pastors are certified travel agents in guilt trips. “Need” makes it about what you want. “Opportunity” helps people discover their gifts and passions.

3. Looking like a well-oiled machine. I hope you’re polishing your weekend systems at every turn. But don’t be so polished that people think, “There’s no way they can use me.”

4. Asking the masses. Stage announcements have their place. But at most, they create awareness, not action. To truly move people to service, you have to go small. Think one-on-one.

5. Soft-selling the role. “It’s not a big deal.” “Anyone can do it.” “It won’t take much time at all.” People don’t aspire to small dreams. Cast some crazy vision.

6. Failing to follow up. You have an info card. Someone filled out a form on the website. And then…nothing. Examine your systems and find the gaps. Nothing takes the fire out of a willing volunteer like being ignored.

7. Bypassing training. We’ve all been there: we’re so desperate to fill roles that we toss people in and skip orientation. Don’t do this. Volunteers who know their role are more likely to keep their role.

8. Putting people anywhere. Not everyone can work with kids. Not everyone is good with guests. Not everyone should hold a microphone. Take time to discover their passion and skill set before you give them a job.

9. Unclear roles and goals. What is your actual “ask”? Are you inviting someone to serve once? Every week? Forever? How does their job fit into the overall church mission? What is their one-sentence job description?

10. No debrief / no way out. You got ’em once, so you’re finished, right? Nope. Take time after their first service time to recap: what worked? What didn’t? Where were they uncomfortable? Where did they thrive? (And if they absolutely hated it, can they try something else?)



photo credit

  1. Julia Farrow says:

    For the first time, our church used a “Say Yes!” wall in our lobby. The wall is covered with postcards, color coded by serving area, with very specific information on them (when, how often, role, position description), yet not too much information. The results have been truly amazing! I actually have gotten so many Guest Services cards where people have said YES! to serving, that I’m trying to catch up with all of them. This is a system we will use for a total of 4 weeks and then see where we go from here. We also do not use the word “need”.

    • Danny says:

      Julia, this is great! Would you be willing for me to feature this idea in an upcoming blog post? If you have a photo / photos or any more details, I’d love to see those via email.

  1. By Get People to Help You – Pastor Dwayne Francois on September 16, 2016 at 10:46 am

    […] Franks is a blogger and author who is often brought to my attention.  He put out 10 Mistakes You’re Making When Recruiting Volunteers.  I like no. […]

  2. […] Read the entire original post here. […]

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