Church volunteer recruitment is one of the most critical and most challenging tasks for every church leader. Volunteers are the lifeblood of any church and most church health metrics show a strong correlation between volunteer team growth and the health and growth of the church (see the Unstuck Church Growth reports).
Step 1: Use a System to Recruit Volunteers
First, make a list of prospects who could serve in your ministry. Search your church management system for people who aren't serving, asking current volunteers for names, ask staff for names, look for people in groups/classes but aren't serving, etc.
Second, contact them with an email inviting them to talk briefly on a weekend before or after the service they attend. Indicate you would like to get to know them (if you don't) and hear how they found their way to your church. If you know them, indicate you want to hear how things are going and help them take a step if they're interested.
Third, meet with people and hear their stories. If serving with you seems like a fit, invite them to observe. If not, point them to their best next step.
Fourth, follow up with people you didn't hear back from with an email or maybe even a text. Keep it loose, and don't bug them after this second contact. But, make it clear you expected to hear back from them and didn't.
That system for church volunteer recruitment is expounded on much more in the Volunteer Boost 28-Day Challenge, but you get the idea.
Step 2: Set Aside Two Time Blocks for Recruiting Volunteers
The biggest barrier to recruiting volunteers is that we don't put the time into it. This step will help, as will Step 4. Set aside 2 hours early in the week and another 2 hours late in the week to work on this. Your schedule might look like this:
- Monday – 10am – Contact prospects and people taking steps through onboarding
- Monday – 11am – Work on ideas for Steps 5 & 6
- Thursday 10am – Contact prospects and people taking steps
- Thursday 11am – Firm up conversations for Sunday and add more prospects to contact next week
Turn off email, social media, and maybe even hide somewhere to minimize distractions. Also, block the time out early in the day so it doesn't get pushed out.
Step 3: Onboard Volunteers Intentionally
This is where the Volunteer Pipeline course is helpful because you learn all about how to do this well and you get documents to go along with it. Without the course, you can still make a plan from scratch. Just write out your onboarding process (each step) and use something to track people as they go through it. Your church management system is my top recommendation, but a spreadsheet or Trello can be helpful as well. Make sure you check this system each week to help people take the next step. An awesome strategy for church volunteer recruitment can be waisted if over half of the prospects don't make it through your volunteer onboarding process.
Step 4: Measure Your Volunteer Recruitment and Get Accountability
Ask your boss or someone who can hold you accountable to check in on you at least every other week to update your progress. Talk about who your prospects are, who you have contacted, who is onboarding, and who has been placed. Show them the tracking system. Also, talk about who has stepped off the team (if anyone does). This accountability might be the thing that makes the biggest difference after you get the volunteer recruiting system in place.
Step 5: Use An On-Ramp to Recruit Volunteers Weekly
On-Ramps are natural opportunities for people to volunteer that they experience as part of getting involved in your church. In the course, I share a bunch of them, but if you don't take the course, try this one. Look at the next big event or special weekend you have coming up and recruit volunteers specifically for that event. Invite people who don't currently serve and make the request really clear. Give them a great experience, and after the event, invite them to serve in a regular role.
Step 6 – Recruit Volunteers Through a Boost
Boosts are another thing I teach in the course and they are once-in-a-while recruiting efforts that are bigger. This is probably what people think of when looking for volunteer recruitment ideas. Try this one, a Team Recruiting Competition. Group your volunteers into teams that make sense (3-5 in size) and invite them to recruit at least 1 new volunteer per team. However, make it a fun contest and give away prizes to the teams that recruit the most. Give them 1 month and help them as much as you can (with ideas of who to recruit, reminders of when, deadlines, etc.)
There you go! If you take those 6 steps, I think you'll see results. Check out the Volunteer Boost 28-Day Challenge if you want to go all-in on recruitment.