I don’t think I have ever heard someone working at a church say, “We have enough volunteers.”
We are always on the hunt for victims, I mean people who want to pastor teenagers. You have put in the groundwork, you are growing, and now you need more people to help you run your ministry. You need to add to your existing group.
How do you go about recruiting new people?
Like most things, there is no one way to do this. Here are a few effective ways to reach out to new people to come and serve:
Church bulletin/pulpit announcement. This is probably the oldest trick in the book and something you have already heard… over… and over… and over… and over. Although it might be easy, it is not always effective. I have heard only a few stories where quality volunteers have come out of something like this. And let’s be honest, there is always someone who comes out of the woodwork that makes you thank the Lord you do background checks. The creepers always come out when announced from stage… just saying. You were thinking about it; I just said it.
Relationships. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist or senior pastor to know that relationships take time. If you have been at your church for a while, you have an advantage. You already know people, you know families, you know stories, and you know who you can reach out to. If you are just beginning and you are taking this recruiting thing on, this is going to take you some time. No one trusts you yet. No one knows what you are about yet. We all know that a one-on-one ask is always the best way to go about it, so get to know some great people.
Headhunting. What’s this you ask? Well, in my context we do not have a weekend service for our students. Our student program runs midweek, so on the weekends I am there to be available for whatever is needed. What I have come to find is a way to begin some relationships and begin to plant the idea of serving in student ministries–this is what I call “headhunting.” Because we do not have a weekend program for students, students attend service with their parents (which I love). I notice where they sit during service and then during the greeting time I look for adults who engage the students I know. I look for adults who strike up conversations with them, make them smile, high five them, etc, and then after service, I go up to them and say something like:
I noticed you talking with that student during the service. We are looking for people who love Jesus and like students and are doing what you just did. We want friendly faces and people who can make students feel welcomed. Have you ever considered serving in student ministry?
Surprisingly, this has worked really well. Even if they do not join our team, I get to meet someone in our church and hear their story and know them a bit more. If nothing else, having someone encourage them and let them know they did something great is never a bad thing.
Ask the leaders you have. When someone is excited about something, the natural response is to invite the people they like to experience the same thing. They found joy in it and want others to find the same joy. One of the best recruiting things I have done personally is challenging our leaders to invite people who they think would be a good fit for the team. We gave our leaders applications to hand to someone they think would be a good addition to our adult leader team. We also have had them give us the contact information of people and we called them to invite them to our team because “such-and-such” recommended them as a leader.
Ask students who they want around. We have asked our student leadership team, “Who are some adults you think should be pouring into students like yourself?” You would be surprised at what teacher, parent, friend’s parent, etc, they can give you and you can follow those leads.
Celebrate loud and often. Whenever I get a chance, I tell a story of life change from the main stage. I tell about a student who made a decision at camp to follow Jesus. I tell about a student in a small group who overcame an addiction with the help of a leader. I celebrate what happens at summer camp and show pictures and videos of the night or week. And without fail, every weekend I do so, someone will hunt me down and say, “I love what I saw (or heard) and I want to be a part of that. How do I do it?” When you are excited about what God is doing and you let people know, it’s hard for people to ignore. People want to be where the action is. How can they know where the action is if no one is celebrating loud and often?
Be bold and ask. It might seem simple, but you have to ask if you want them to say yes. Asking someone to give up a few hours a week and actually choose to spend their time hanging out with teenagers can be nerve-racking. But don’t say “no” for them. Ask. You have no idea what God has been doing in their life behind the scenes.