For a period of seven years, I was extremely proud to be a firefighter at our local volunteer fire department. Most people are aware of the incredible risks, hazards, and life threatening circumstances firefighters face every day. Yet, we had 60 men actively serving along with a lengthy waiting list. We had more volunteers than we needed. Keep in mind — this is volunteer – no one, including our chief, was getting paid. We gave many hours each week running calls but also just as many in training. After analyzing the success of this volunteer organization I saw four principles that apply in our church ministries as well. I will be touching on one of each of these over the next few weeks. They are…
- Volunteers will consider helping if the need is made known.
- Volunteers are motivated when the vision is clear and impactful.
- Volunteers are encouraged if training is provided.
- Volunteers stick around if their service is appreciated.
One of the greatest mistakes that can be made in ministry is expecting yourself to handle and accomplish each and every responsibility that comes you way. This may work for a time but will ultimately lead down the path toward burnout. Burnout serves no one and negatively impacts your calling. Realizing the need for support is one thing…finding and acquiring that support is another.
Before I begin, it’s important to address a falsehood about recruiting. For many, the task of recruiting can be intimidating. No one wants to be “that guy” who begs and pleads for help. It’s easy to feel like you’re encroaching upon people’s lives or that they’ll think you’re not doing your job. The truth is that this falsehood will rob people of important ministry moments and service opportunities for the church. We take away a great opportunity for learning, growth, and connectedness to a fellowship.
This week I will be addressing the principle: Volunteers will consider helping if the need is made known.
This seems to be an obvious point, but if we do not effectively communicate the need – no one will know there is one. Rarely do people spontaneously show up and ask if they can help. Many times we have learned how to handle responsibilities so well ourselves, we may appear to not need help at all. There should be no shame in presenting the needs of our ministry to the congregation.
Before presenting the needs to the congregation, it is wise to know exactly how often the recruiting can occur (how often the need is made known). Discussing this with other church leadership (especially the Pastor) would be wise. The following questions would be helpful to address:
- How many volunteers will be needed?
- How many hours will it take?
- How many days are required?
- Is this a “permanent” need (repetitive tasks each week) or a one-time need?
- Are there age requirements?
- Are there skill requirements? (computer or music knowledge)
- How much training will be needed?
Once these questions have been discussed and answered the next task is to decide the various methods of how to communicating the need.
- When communicating the need, make sure it is clear and concise of what will be required. It’s helpful for volunteers to know on the front end what exactly they are signing up to do.
Methods are varied and not limited to: email blasts, formal letters or notes, bulletin inserts, monthly newsletters, announcement during the worship service, and website ads. The most effective — a personal invitation by you… This, by far, has the most impact.
Next up, we’ll talk about motivation. Stay tuned.
Dale Bleam is LifeWay Worship’s Sales Supervisor & Strategist. Or as he says, “Supervisor of the best sales team I’ve ever had the privilege of working with.” With 20+ years in church music sales… he would know! In addition, his other titles include: Dad, Bi-vocational Worship Pastor, Songwriter, Teacher, Volunteer Firefighter, XBOX Champion and Weightlifter. And here’s a fun fact, he listens to his music LOUD. He keeps our hallways filled with joyful sounds. If LifeWay Worship was a radio station, he’d be our DJ.