The Secret to Getting New Volunteers
I am blessed to serve at a church that values volunteers. At South Hills, we couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers showing up early and leaving late at night. These true servants do everything from parking cars to holding babies to running presentation software. The jobs are many, but the workers are few.
So how do you get these necessary workers? Attracting and keeping quality volunteers is not rocket science, but it does take some strategy.
Personally evangelize through church and staff connections
Most tech directors are introverts. While this is great for focusing on tasks and problem solving, it isn’t great when it comes to recruiting and getting new volunteers. So why not leverage your fellow staff extroverts?
Get to know them and be known by them. As you do, preach the gospel of how cool it is to serve on the tech team. A healthy staff atmosphere should be a place where each staff member is always looking for opportunities to populate other ministries with volunteers. But they can’t do that if they don’t know what you or your ministry are about.
The same is true with your congregation. If you aren’t out and about, meeting people and letting them know how they can serve, you’re missing out on great opportunities to not only get new volunteers for your ministry, but also directing them to other ministries they may be better suited for. And so goes the circle of life in ministry leadership.
Get your team to spread the word
One of the best ways to do this is to allow them to partner with you in building the team. Cast the vision often and let them know that you are not the one that makes it happen. They are. Reinforce that this is their church – their community. Consistently encourage them to seek out and find others that might be great additions to the tech team. They all have friends, small groups, and relationships both inside and outside the church. And since you are already leading by example with your staff and congregation, they will have a model to duplicate.
Don’t underestimate the power of prayer
I’m not sure if it’s an “American Church” issue, but I talk to many TD’s about strategies for their tech teams, and prayer is either way down the list or not on the list at all. I’ve been the chief offender in this, so please know I’m not pointing a finger at anyone but myself.
God honors prayer. So pray over every major issue in your ministry – including getting new volunteers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed that God would bring the right person for a specific position at a specific time and seen Him deliver the goods. He is faithful. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Exodus 31:6b “…and I have also given skills to those who will help them make everything exactly as I have commanded you” (CEV). God is waiting to bring you His appointed workers.
So that’s how you get the volunteers. But how do you keep them?
When you know your job, you have more fun. When you have fun, you feel accomplished in your tasks. When you feel accomplished in your tasks, you feel invested. When you feel invested, you are invested.
Invested people stay around. So train your volunteers and make it clear what the end game is for each position on the tech team. Position-specific checklists are a good idea. There’s a great deal of comfort in knowing what’s expected of you.
Whether you have two tech posts or ten, challenge your team to move around from position to position – especially after you feel that they have a good grasp on the one they currently occupy. This will quickly allow you to see who the team leaders are. Team leader types usually want two things: to learn their positional task well and to learn how to do other positional tasks if needed.
The other area to challenge your team with is training. As your team grows, don’t feel like you need to train every new volunteer in each position. Have your core/veteran volunteers do the bulk of the training. This will take that task off your plate and give both honor and trust to your already loyal and dedicated team members.
This is the heart of the Father. If you miss it, all the training and challenging in the world won’t keep your team thriving, fun, and healthy.
So how do you love your team? Learn their “love language”. I work really hard to learn and understand how each member of my team feels valued and loved. Your greeting is just one example. Some want a handshake or fist bump. Others may want a hand on the shoulder or a hug. Some may not want any of that. I am a hugger, but I always respect people’s boundaries. Let them lead you in that and observe how they interact with others – while being Biblically appropriate at all times. Some will love a nickname, others will want you to say their name correctly (eg. Robert, not Bob). This will require you to slow down and do a lot of listening – really hearing their hearts and valuing them as God’s people – not just those getting a task done.
I’m not saying you should be their “buddy”. I actually think that can be destructive because it has the potential for favoritism or silently approving of bad behavior. What I am saying is, no matter your age, be the tech team papa or momma. Many will see you as a pastor, even if you don’t hold that official title. If you’re leading your team correctly, you are “pastoring” them.
The added benefit of this is that it spills over onto your key leaders. As your ministry grows, you’ll see them loving and caring for the teams as well. There may come a point where you don’t know everyone on every team. If you’ve modeled this and instilled it in your key leaders, they will make sure it happens no matter how big your team gets and no matter how many campuses or venues they are spread across.
The Bottom Line
As leaders in the church, we couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers.
Getting new volunteers and keeping them has to be a major part of our job. If it isn’t, we miss out on the blessing their service brings to the church, the community, and themselves.