How to recruit ministry volunteers

Recruiting ministry volunteersWHAT NOT TO DO:

1. Never stand in front of your congregation and make a plea for help. Don’t ask for anyone interested to contact you. You may get a response from someone, but they could be an immature believer, have disqualifying personal issues, or sign up just to have fun. And since they know you’re in need of help, it’s hard to communicate, “Sorry, we do need help, but you’re not what we need.” You almost have to take whoever shows up at your office door.

2. Never beg people to join your ministry. You don’t want people to join you out of pity, sympathy, or because they have a hard time saying no. Don’t come across as a ministry that’s struggling and needs help in order to function. That’s not very inspiring and sets a completely wrong perspective for that potential volunteer, especially later if they decide to come on board.

3. Never invite someone to join your ministry team unless you’re confident in their abilities to fulfill the roles you assign. Don’t set your volunteer up for failure by saying, “Let’s see how well you can perform here” and then later say, “Wow, I didn’t know you were so bad at this. Oh well, thanks anyway!” This is a disservice to your ministry participants as well as to your now ex-volunteer. Set them up to succeed!


1. Ask your church staff and other trusted leaders for referrals of people they think would be a great fit for your ministry. Also, intentionally establish relationships with people outside your ministry area and get a feel for where they’re at spiritually and how they may or may not fit into your team. Pray over every lead.

2. Talk with other people who know your potential recruit. What input do they have? Any concerns? Can they envision that person successfully participating in your ministry?

3. If everything checks out, approach the recruit and cast the vision for your ministry. Share what God’s doing in your team and where you believe He’s leading. Also listen to their heart, talk about their passions and what God’s doing in their life, especially points that may intersect with what God’s doing in your ministry. Throughout the discussion, generate excitement for this individual if it looks like a good connection could be made between your ministry and this potential volunteer.

4. Invite the recruit to become a part of the ministry as a fly on the wall — no responsibilities, just to observe. Debrief together after every experience.

5. If they agree to join the ministry, clearly set the expectations and responsibilities for that individual. Provide ongoing training and support as they venture out into their specific area of ministry. This insures that they won’t burnout right away and will be a part of your group for a long time to come. Also make sure you take care of any legal stuff your church might require, including background checks and/or application process.

6. Set your standards high and keep ’em there! The last thing your ministry needs is a questioned reputation because someone on your team did something or said something that was really stupid or even downright harmful. Your ministry should always be a safe place where people have full confidence in the integrity of your volunteers.

Posted on March 5, 2007

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