Preaching Articles

If you get a group of pastors or church leaders together and ask them about their biggest challenges, volunteers and leaders will come up. The idea of recruiting volunteers is overwhelming and difficult at times. There never seems to be enough people, and the ones who are serving are often tired and feel like they are the only ones serving.

In light of that, there are some crucial things to keep in mind as you invite people to use their gifts and talents at your church and keep them engaged in those roles. Note, the words you use are incredibly important.

1. Know who you are and what you need around you.

Many times we are simply looking for a warm body, and no one wants to sign up for a role that anyone can do. When you are inviting people to use their gifts, you need to know if they fit who you are, the team you have in place and the role you are inviting them into. This means as a leader you need to know your personality, strengths and weaknesses so you can effectively build around you. You need to know the makeup of people already on your team, what kind of personalities they have and what is missing. You also need to know what kind of people you need on your team.

2. Don’t say no for anyone.

This is easier to do than you would think. We have a need or opening, and we have in mind the perfect person. But they are busy, so we don’t ask. Yes they are busy, but that doesn’t matter. Don’t say no for anyone. Let them say no. Remember, if you don’t ask you rob them of an opportunity. Who knows, they might say yes.

3. The most high capacity and talented people are busy.

This is a truth that took me awhile to figure out. The most talented and high capacity people in your church are probably busy, but that’s because they are high capacity and talented people. Notice, I didn’t say they were doing too much, I just said they were busy. They do a lot because they are talented and have a higher capacity than other people. Just like #2, these are the people you want but won’t say anything to. Don’t. Ask them.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Hopefully you are picking up on a theme of what it takes to get the right people on your team at your church. Ask.

Remember: People don’t sign up to volunteer because of a big announcement; they say yes because someone asked them.

We have this idea in churches that if we show enough videos, make enough pleas from the stage, guilt and shame, then maybe people will sign up. But you don’t want those people. They won’t stay, and then you’ll have people on your team that don’t fit and don’t want to be there because they signed up because they felt bad.

Now I’m not saying you don’t use announcements, but they aren’t as affective to building your team as you often think they are. They help make a need get on someone’s radar.

But the people you want are the people you need to ask.

I said this to a room full of volunteers at our church once and got some pushback. Then I asked everyone to raise their hand who served on their team because of a stage announcement and who served because they were asked by someone. Over 90% served because someone asked them.

5. Why you do something is more important than what you do.

This is how you get people on your team and keep people on your team.

When most team leaders invite someone to join their team, they talk about what they’ll do, how they’ll do it, expectations, etc. Those are all well and good.

But people only serve and stay because of why you do something.

In fact, this is one of the biggest reasons volunteers burnout and quit; they don’t remember why they are doing something.

One thing I do every week is pull every volunteer at our church together and remind them in just a few minutes why we are doing something. That it will be someone’s first day at church today, and we need to be ready for that. I also thank them for what they do and how hard they work.

When was the last time you did something nice for your team? When was the last time you said thanks to them?

Josh Reich is the lead pastor of Revolution Church in Tucson, AZ, which is trying to live out the rhythms of Jesus. The church's dream is to "help people find their way back to God."

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