Volunteers (Part 2 of 4): How will I Recruit My Dream Team?
We’d all love to have a great team, but the reality is it doesn’t just happen does it? It takes time, effort, intentionality, and the work of God. In no way is this mean to be an exhaustive list, but here are a few ideas that I hope will both affirm some things you are already doing as well as prime the pump for fresh intentionality and creativity as you steward the gift of your volunteer team and grow together in being disciples who make disciples who also make disciples…among the emerging generation.
Seven recruiting ideas:
Prayer: It may sound overstated, but this is a major part of good recruiting. In Mark 3:13-17 we see Jesus staying up all night before selecting His ministry team. As He sends out the 72 in Luke 10:2 He charges them to pray for the Father to raise up workers for the harvest field. Prayer is an essential part of the recruiting process.
Clarity: Each volunteer should have a clear ministry description that defines both the overall focus of the role as well as the responsibilities, time commitment and expectations. A ministry description does two things: 1) It communicates that you value this role enough to have thought through the why, what and how of the role. 2) It clarifies the “win” for the volunteer giving them clear idea of what you’re wanting them to do. If you don’t define the target they will.
Time: Be sure you’ve thought through what the minimum time commitment for this role is and communicate it clearly up front. Everyone loses when a volunteer is 3 months into the role and discovers that the job requires far more time then they can commit to give. When you think of time, don’t forget to include monthly team meetings, contacting and prep time, besides simply the time of the primary environment they’ll be working in.
Shoulder Tap: The best recruiting is done face to face. Mass pleas from the pulpit or bulletin often do three things: 1) Yield little response. 2) Yield response from the wrong people or for the wrong motives. 3) Communicate that your ministry just isn’t that exciting of a place to be. Avoid the mass plea and get out there and tap a few shoulders. The way I like to shoulder tap is to go out for coffee or write a letter to the person in order to communicate what God is doing in the Student Ministry, let them know that I’m interested in talking to them about joining our team and what I see in them that compels me to want them to join our team. I let them know that I’ll be calling them in the next week to talk more about it.
Interview: Before bringing anyone on the team be sure that you or one of your veteran volunteers has reviewed their application (you have an application right?) and then would sit down with the person in order to learn as much about the person as you can. There are several things I always to know: Why do they want to be involved? Why is this the right time for them/their family? What’s their faith story? How would they share the gospel with a friend/student? What have they been discovering of God in the last month? What things do they love doing–what are they passionate about? What do they expect from me and/or our team? What other other commitments do they already have in their life?
Recruit Together: Although as the leader you are responsible for building a strong, healthy team, you may not be the best recruiter on the team. In fact, some of the best recruiters are your current volunteers. Their shoulder tapping comes with a great deal of credibility. Also, when a volunteer invites a friend to join the team, the new volunteer is more likely to stick because of the friendship with the existing team member. Your current volunteers are some of your best recruiters.
First Serve Opportunities: I love finding very short term opportunities that give both the potential volunteer and myself an opportunity to see if this may be a fit. Retreats, mission trips, and even summer events are a great way first place for people to get their feet wet. Its much easier to say yes to a day or weekend commitment than it is to a full year commitment. It also gives me a chance to get to see how the person relates to students and other leaders. Then, after the short-term opportunity I determine if I want to ask them if they want to make join our team on a more permanent basis.
Do you have a 12 month recruiting plan? I see too many people only recruit in mid to late summer as the new year is forming. What would it look like to shoulder tap 2 people each month? Even if you don’t have an open position for them right away you may be able to have them apprentice alongside a veteran until a place opens…and you know it will.