One of the greatest challenges of leading an ministry is finding gifted and dedicated people who want to serve. There are obviously bad ways to recruit including begging, pressuring, desperate sounding announcements and while those might yield a few, chances are someone responding to a desperate situation in a pressure filled impulsive moment will probably lack the stick-to-itiveness you desire in a leader. So here are 3 trench-tested ways to find the best volunteers out there.
Sow Seeds: Serving in our student ministry or any ministry for that matter should be a decision that is prayerfully considered and discerned. Saying yes to giving up 5-8 hours of your week means saying no to other things, thus this decision is not one best made in haste. Because of this reality, we are always talking to people who we believe might be great leaders next year or a few years from now and asking them to consider if our ministry is a place they can see God using their gifts. Having the time to think also gives them the time to prioritize the other things they are committed to so that if they do decide to serve each week, they will be all in and focused and engaged, not maxed out and regretful.
Train them Up: The best volunteers are often the ones who already have the DNA of the ministry, the ones that get the mission, that get the values and want to stay connected and serve where they had been served. Many youth workers would argue that they need to take a year off, and we do not share that value. Some of our strongest leaders of our preteens are 18 and 19 years old, they are crushing it, with very little training. Being someone that came through the ministry, they typically all get the WHAT pieces, we simply need to build into them the WHY of the ministry and let them run with it.
Talk it up: Lately the best way we have found to find volunteers is when people who serve already talk about it, tweet about it, instagram about it. Every Thursday night we throw the best party of the week and lots of people see that and say, “I want to be a part of that”. People want to be a part of something, something bigger than themselves and when they hear stories of life change, they see leaders who are passionately serving, they want to be there, they want to know more. Passion is contagious. Don’t be afraid to encourage your leaders to talk about youth leading, about why they do it and the things they see God doing in the lives of their students as well as their own. Holy Gossip is the best, give people something to talk about.
Great volunteers are hard to come by, but don’t be disheartened if you don’t find them right away. These three ways have been highly effective at helping us find an abundance of talented people who want to serve and lead our students. Give it a shot, and if you you have other ways that work, comment below!
-Geoff Stewart geoffcstewart