Relational Recruiting: Finding volunteers through friendship

Today, I want to introduce you to two wise ladies who are expert volunteer recruiters: Margo and Marilyn.

Margo Most is the Director of Middle School MInistries at Fellowship Bible Church. In addition to planning retreats, teaching Bible Studies and working with parents and students, Margo devotes time and energy to recruiting volunteers. Recently, Margo told me, “I always try to build relationships with people BEFORE I ask them to volunteer; No one likes to be hunted down by a stranger on Sunday morning and asked, ‘Hey, do you want to teach a small group?'”

Oh, how right she is!

Often, we recruit out of necessity and panic.Weary from the lack of response to bulletin blurbs and pulpit announcements, we scan the fellowship hall for anyone who might be willing and able. Sometimes, we resort to that most-dreaded phrase: “Hey…I just need a warm body for my ministry. Want to volunteer?”

Enticing? I don’t think do.

By taking a page out of Margo’s book, we increase the likelihood of recruiting volunteers for inclusion ministry that will be a good “fit.” Here’s why:

  • By building a relationship, we learn about the volunteer’s gifts. We might find out that someone has a background in speech or occupational therapy, or that he enjoyed working for a camp for kids with disabilities while in college. We might learn that she has a fabulous sense of humor or a talent for music. With this information, we can ask God how these gifts might be used with the children in the program.
  • We learn about the volunteer’s temperament and personality. Some very successful volunteers don’t have a background in education or therapy, and yet, they have experienced great success in inclusion ministry. Through relationships, we might learn that a prospective volunteer has a wonderful sense of humor or immeasurable patience or a calm, quiet presence.
  • We learn about the volunteer’s life. By building relationships, we find out who is out of work, and who has just signed a contract to build a new house. We know that someone is dealing with a challenging teen or providing care for aging parents. While we never want to presume that someone is “too busy” or “too overwhelmed” to volunteer, we do want to be sure that our timing and our words are appropriate.
  • We build the Kingdom. When we recruit through relationships, we increase the likelihood that our volunteers will experience success in their service…and the resulting enthusiasm will be caught by others!

Recruiting for a new program year can be intimidating. However, by considering relationships you have, and purposefully forming new ones, the process may be more manageable.  My friend Marilyn Johns, from Union Presbyterian Seminary, offers this encouragement: “Never be afraid to ask people to volunteer; you’re giving them an opportunity to serve the King!”

Serving with you!


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