8 SURPRISING ATTITUDE SHIFTS THAT WILL HELP YOU GET NEW VOLUNTEERS
BY: HAL SEED
Who knew that getting more volunteers would depend so much on how you think about it – and how you talk about it.
1. It’s God’s Problem.
He got you into this mess. It’s his problem to get you out of it!
Well, maybe he didn’t exactly get you into it, but Jesus will help you find the volunteers you need to do ministry.
You can see Jesus’ heart in Matthew 9:36-38,
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Did you catch Jesus’ motivation for workers in verse 36? He had compassion on the crowd. They needed to be ministered to.
Do you think God wants that ministry to happen? Then ask him for it!
How often should you pray about finding more volunteers?
Every time you think about it. If it’s a big problem because you don’t know who’s with the 4th grade boys this weekend, you’re going to be thinking about it – and praying about it – often.
If you’re not too worried about it because it’s not too bad a problem, they just pray every time it comes to mind.
2. You’re not recruiting. You’re inviting.
It’s not just semantics. It’s an attitude shift.
Recruiting is being volun-told. It’s Uncle Sam pointing his finger at you. It’s your arm twisted behind your back. There may be guilt and a little shame sprinkled in.
Maybe that worked in the last millennia when our world ran on command and control, but it does not work in this millennia.
Never say the word “recruiting” again. Make a vocabulary shift that demonstrates your attitude shift. From now on, you’re inviting people to join you in ministry.
It may feel awkward to you and your fellow leaders at first, but it won’t feel awkward to potential volunteers. It will feel more appealing.
Would you rather be recruited or invited?
3. You’re looking for the right people.
The attitude shift here is not just warm bodies, but the rightwarm bodies!
It’s less about that big hole that is a problem every weekend, and more about what God wired that new volunteer to enjoy and do well.
There are two reasons why you want the right people in the right places:
One is that God has given believers spiritual gifts – things he had made them good at for the sake of the church – and it’s your obligation to help them find what God made them to do so they can fulfill their calling.
The second reason you want the right people in the right place is because when people are serving according to their giftedness they will be good at what they do and they will do it with passion for a long time.
We have people in our children’s ministry who have served for almost twenty years. Faithfully. Every other weekend. Building into kids. Because that’s how God made them.
Everybody is a right people in the right place someplace.
4. Design ministry roles that people want to do.
You may want someone who will do refreshments every weekend, but that’s a hard sell these days when people attend church 1.5 times per month.
When you make the ministry role so big that new people don’t see how it can fit in their lives, they’re not raising their hands. Even if they would like to serve.
Shift your attitude from expecting people to fit in your boxes to recognize that most people these days need smaller boxes. Because there’s a good chance it’s the design of the ministry position that’s keeping them away.
Instead of thinking about the way it’s always been done, or what used to work, or what’s best for you, size your ministries into roles that fit with today’s busy, distracted families.
Yes, you’ll need even more people that way. But trust me, you’ll get more people!
Most of our entry-level weekend ministry positions ask people to serve one service every other week, or both services once a month.
You will still have meatier roles for people who have more time and/or more commitment, but…
…when you shift your attitude and tweak your entry-level ministries, you’ll see new people stepping up to volunteer in your church.
5. Some people need to be empowered to run with their vision.
Its a subtle attitude shift to go from thinking about your need for volunteers and leaders to thinking about deploying the ministry horsepower that is idling in your church.
This attitude shift has you thinking about helping people discover their God-sized vision and passion.
Think about what happens when you oblige a business guy who doesn’t speak 4th grade boy to say yes to the children’s class. He lasts the minimum amount of time, and he never volunteers again because it wasn’t a good experience.
If you’ve done that, maybe that’s why you’re facing the volunteer shortage.
What if, instead, you talk with your business guy to find out what he’s interested in doing. And if he has the idea, and the horsepower, help him start something new in your church.
This is an attitude shift where you are open to the people that need to be released to make more ministry instead of expecting everyone to fill the regular ministry needs.
It’s messier and it creates even more ministry openings, but it also creates an exciting ministry culture in your church that attracts more volunteers to every role.
One caveat: you don’t have to set every wild idea free. Use your wisdom to blow on viable ideas and leaders and give nascent ideas and leaders time to develop.
6. Inviting is a process.
In this attitude shift, you’ll realize that inviting is a process.
It’s not like a baseball game where they get a few chances to strike out. It’s more like fishing where you patiently reel them in.
In the inviting process, you look for the right people and cast a little vision. You give them the opportunity to check out the ministry before they decide. You ask them for little steps before they make a real commitment. And of course, you’re always looking to put people in the right spot.
If someone says no right off the bat, it only means that you didn’t ask them right.
7. You’re doing them a favor.
I talk with leaders who are hesitant to ask people to serve because they don’t want to inconvenience them.
Here’s your attitude shift: people are lucky to serve with you! You are doing them a favor by letting them join your ministry team.
If you have built a ministry that is a good experience, you can be confident when you ask people to get involved on your team. You know it will be good for them.
Here are two reasons why people are fortunate to volunteer on your team:
The first is that their day job may just be how they pay the bills, but they may find that their ministry is what God created them for. We see people all the time who have discovered that, next to their family, serving at church is the best thing in their life.
The second reason you can be confident when you ask people to serve is that people want community, and serving teams are a great place to build that community. A serving team is easier to join than a small group. And we see real friendships form when people serve side-by-side.
So, in Jesus’ name, get rid of that hesitant, apologetic spirit, and ask people to serve with confidence and boldness. It’s good for them!
8. Stay close to them.
As much as you want to pat your new volunteer on the back, tell him to “have at it”, and hurry off to solve your next problem, your work isn’t done when someone says yes.
Your attitude shift here is from using people to get the job done to walking with people as they grow.
Get your new volunteer off to a strong start so God can do his work in them through their ministry.
Your new volunteer needs an orientation and on-the-job training so they know how to be successful. And they need to see that you’re nearby in case they have a question or have trouble.
For our entry-level ministry roles – like greeters and ushers, hospitality, parking, and children’s ministry – we like a three-session apprenticeship.
It’s classic education theory:
- I do. You watch. The first time is a ride-along so they can see what the ministry involves.
- We do together. The second time they stand next to you and you give them some things to do.
- You do. I watch. The third time they do the ministry and you are nearby to help if they need it.
And then, always, you’re near them while they’re serving, or you check in with them afterward to hear how it went.
You want to know – and they want to tell you – how God is at work in them and through them because of the ministry they’re doing.
That’s an attitude shift that makes for happy volunteers.