The first steps to attracting church volunteers

Every church could use more passionate and excited volunteers. Last week, over 200 people showed up for a Church Community Builder webinar with Chris Mavity about volunteers. It was our highest attended webinar of the year so far. Clearly volunteer development is a hot topic and a huge need in our churches.

I have written a lot of posts on Online Giving because there is a lot to say about it. Volunteer strategy feels very similar. I could (and probably will) write several posts on the topic. Today, I want to focus on the first step to growing your church’s volunteer team: Attraction!

Your volunteer base will be very small unless you can create high energy around the service opportunities you make available. You have to make serving something that people feel like they're missing out on if they don't do it. How is that possible? Here are a few tips Chris shared about how to attract more people to serve:

  • Develop people, don't fill slots
    You have to change your mindset with volunteers. Stop seeing them as a way to "get things done" and start seeing volunteerism as a way for your church to develop and disciple people.
  • Simplify the choices
    Don't overwhelm people with hundreds of volunteer opportunities. Narrow your options down to the ones which are most critical to the way you "do church".
  • Identify the right attributes
    When you develop a new service opportunity, take the time to identify the personal characteristics which someone needs to really succeed at the opportunity. Heres a tip: Take time to study the people who are already really good at this. What characteristics do they have?
  • Be clear on your non-negotiables
    Clarity is a powerful thing! When people fully understand what is expected of them and what isn't, they will be far more likely to step up and serve. Lack of clarity breeds confusion and a fear that "I don't have what it takes". The result is good people sitting on the sideline.
  • Invite don't recruit
    Recruiting is something colleges do with football players. Churches need to invite people to be a part of ministry through volunteering. The differences are subtle but powerful. Language plays a key role here as does the process. Use a peer to peer approach instead of just announcing your needs in the weekly program.

Too often, we treat our volunteers like they are a commodity rather than a person we are called to steward. We have a lot of needs in our churches so we tend to look for any "warm body" to help us. This creates burnout, not a thriving church. Developing a volunteer strategy with "buzz" and a waiting list of people wanting to be involved is not easy but nothing worthwhile ever is. In the weeks ahead, I will continue to share more thoughts and wisdom from my friend Chris Mavity and others on this topic.

Are people attracted to the volunteer opportunities in your church? Tell us how you have made that happen.

Topics: This entry was posted in Leadership Roles, This entry was posted in Administrative Support, This entry was posted in Volunteer Ministry

Posted by Steve Caton on Aug 29, 2012, 10:48:22 PM