The Secret to Recruiting Volunteers
The struggle is real when it comes to recruiting youth ministry volunteers. At some point, most of us have felt like we’ve tried everything only to have nothing work.
Our list of frustrations looks something like this:
- I’ve asked, and no one has expressed interest.
- Everyone is too busy to volunteer their time to work with students.
- Our church just isn’t excited about what’s happening in the youth ministry.
- We don’t have any young people in our congregation who can handle our energetic students.
- With all that’s on my plate, I don’t have time to recruit volunteers.
In spite of what these frustrations would lead us to believe, “solo youth ministry” is not the only option. Here are five suggestions to help grow your volunteer team and further your ministry’s impact:
Start by making a good, long list of all the roles or positions that volunteers could fill in the ministry. Be sure to include a number of dream roles! At my church, most of our team is a mix of small group leaders and food crew members. Each of these volunteers also mentor and disciple the students in our ministry. Outside of the norm, I dream of having a grandma and grandpa at the door, giving students fist bumps as they arrive and leave. Remember there are no age requirements to serve in youth ministry. So break out a white board or a stack of post-its, and get creative about thinking up new and specific ministry roles.
“Rarely do volunteers answer our desperate cries for help, but they do respond to vision.”
Don’t ask for help
No one wants to join a sinking ship. Rarely do volunteers answer our desperate cries for help, but they do respond to vision. When you present a potential volunteer with an incredible ministry opportunity, you invite them to participate in what God is doing. Instead of asking for help, communicate the joys of serving in the youth ministry and tell potential volunteers what’s in it for them.
Share the story
Here’s a tip that I picked up at a LeaderTreks Refuel Retreat. When someone asks you, “How’s the youth group doing?” be prepared to say more than, “It’s good.” Share a story about how you see a student growing, talk about a big moment in student worship, or invite someone to pray specifically for a particular student. A three or four sentence answer that points to personal and spiritual impact will increase excitement surrounding the youth ministry.
“The plea from the podium on a Sunday morning will not gain volunteers to your team; a personal invite is always best.”
Extend a personal invite
The plea from the podium on a Sunday morning will not gain volunteers to your team; a personal invite is always best. I tend to approach adults who I see talking with students before and after Sunday morning worship, and I encourage my volunteers to invite their church friends to join our team. Whether it’s a conversation over coffee or a meeting over lunch, a personal invitation allows you to share your vision and connect with the heart of your prospective volunteer.
Offer a test drive
You can also offer a test drive for potential volunteers. Plan out a specific time period, and at the end of that time, come together to discuss if they will continue to serve in the ministry. A test drive can tell you (and them!) if they are the right fit for a particular role on your team, and it can alleviate the initial fear of making a long-term commitment to the ministry.
The challenges of recruiting may feel overwhelming, but every step we take gets us closer to a healthier and more impactful ministry. Consider ways that you can develop new ministry roles, communicate your vision rather than your need, and extend personal invitations to potential volunteers. Remember that we are not without hope. Jesus acknowledged that the harvest was plentiful but the workers were few, and he instructed his disciples to “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:38).
About the Author
Andy Lawrenson has been in student ministry for 26 years both as a volunteer and paid staff member. Andy and his wife, Misha, have been married for 28 years and have three children: a son in middle school and twin eight-year-olds, a boy and girl. Andy loves getting together with other youth pastors to talk about […]