Volunteer recruitment is most likely one of the hardest and most time-consuming aspects of your job. You never have enough helpers to get it all done, and when you are finally getting to that place of calm, someone asks if you have time to talk. What if you could walk over to the wide open back door and leave it only partially cracked? Imagine what it would be like to have a team of committed small group leaders instead of a mismatched group of babysitters. Sounds great, doesn’t it? What if most of your small group leaders actually served for years and years? What if they even considered themselves as lifetime volunteers? Let’s talk about how to recruit those kinds of volunteers. Here are a few basic principles to follow:
ENLIST TO A CALLING
Your job description can be found in Ephesians 4:12, “Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” Your goal is to prepare your small group leaders to minister to the kids and their parents so the church will grow in wisdom and holiness. As you are building your teams, your goal is to intentionally join them together, so that they resemble the body of Christ, not Mr. Potato Head. When someone is willing to serve wherever needed and they are a gifted teacher, avoid the temptation of filling your worship leader vacant spot, and actually place them in a teaching role. Find their best fit. Get to know your team through a strong on-boarding process and solicit feedback during placement to verify they can see themselves serving in this capacity long term.
EXPLAIN WHY THEIR ROLE MATTERS
When you pressure small group leaders to serve out of guilt, your temporary motivation will only take them so far. Show them how the role of a small group leader is carrying out the great commission found in Mathew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Point to specific examples and show small group leaders how they are building the church and expanding the kingdom each and every week. Most people serving in the church can point back to a leader who showed up and influenced their spiritual journey. You have a group of influencers who are making a difference in the next generation, so take the time to remind them of this impact.
FOSTER A FAMILY CULTURE
Sundays can be challenging. It comes with the territory. After a long and difficult morning at church, it might be tempting for a volunteer to quit (who hasn’t been tempted to quit?). It’s easy to quit a position but it’s hard to leave a family. When you work to connect your team, the members of the team begin to work together and belong to one another. Romans 12:4-5 explains it like this, “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Placing the right people in the right positions in an organization built around groups can help nourish this family culture.
MAKE FREQUENT AND INTENTIONAL INVESTMENTS
The secret recipe for keeping your long time volunteers around is to continue to show love to them by making deposits into their lives. Hebrews 10:25 challenges us saying, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Investment is not about giving your small group leader a five dollar coffee gift card, but sitting down with them around the coffee table. No longer is it about the small group leader simply showing up and doing okay but it’s increasing their abilities and equipping them to become engaging disciple makers. When you see small group leaders have a gifting beyond their current position, show them future next steps. And whenever you see a small group leader who needs a break, give them time off with an intentional plan to bring them back on the team.
In the last paragraph, of the last page of Jim Wideman’s book, Tweetable Leadership, he says, “Be a lover of God’s people. The ministry is all about relationships. People matter! I believe the time we spend empowering and encouraging people is never wasted.” For you to recruit lifetime small group leaders, you must enlist them to a calling that fits their gifting, connect them with one another, and continue to love them through intentional deposits in their lives.
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