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Recruiting Volunteers is about Developing People


Recruiting is not about filling positions for an unpaid job. The way you recruit will be the way they quit. If you grab a volunteer in a hall or on a sidewalk, they may agree to help because of that offhand conversation. It is also likely that they will quit in the same way. “Oh hey, I won’t be coming anymore, gotta run.” Recruiting people to something important doesn’t happen in email blasts, bulleting announcements, or 30 second accidental conversations. Recruiting is fundamentally about developing the people in your organization.

Here are ten vital recruiting principles that live out this philosophy:

Don’t get married on the first date.

Think process or “courtship.” The following method of dating does not usually work: “Let’s cut to the chase…I like you…you like me…let’s get married tomorrow. I know a pastor I’ll give him a call.” Why would it work in recruiting?

Avoid “Oh by the way…”

            …All volunteers have national dues of $150

            …Have to be fingerprinted…here is the address for the office downtown…oh and by the way, bring $40

            …Must attend the weekend training seminar in August

The way you recruit will be the way they quit.

The level of investment you show in recruiting is the level of investment they will display during the work and in quitting. If you grab someone in the hall, they will quit suddenly in the hall, right before the junior high retreat.

Your need team members to “see” for you.

Evaluation drives improvement and your philosophy of ministry. If you are limited to your eyes alone you are blind to the majority of your ministry. We will also be locked into our biases without challenge.

Don’t build on weakness…use their strengths.

Volunteers are to be developed and not used. If we stick people into positions and then try to make them fit we will find higher turnover and lower satisfaction. Instead of recruiting for a position create positions for your recruits.

Take a long-sighted view of development of people.

Organizations are temporary. So is your program. People are eternal. The investment in volunteers builds the kingdom and sets the tone for honoring the image of God.

To develop as a leader a volunteer needs:

            A mentor to guide

            A teacher to develop skills

            A judge to evaluate progress

            An encourager to cheer them on

The most important way to use people is to use them as teachers.

How do we fulfill the great commission? The three participial phrases are: Going, Baptizing and Teaching to obey. Are we training our leaders to teach other how to obey Christ? If you are teaching more than three times a week you are likely stealing development opportunities from your leaders and limiting the development of your whole group.

Don’t waste time on Routine decisions.

Routine decisions are decisions that have no consequences, or at least no foreseeable consequences. Don’t waste time on them. Too many people spend lots of time on committees and task forces doing busy work that has no eternal consequence. Your leaders don’t need to choose colors or plan calendars. They need to be equipped to lead people.

Keep the flame.

Because people work for free they work for a cause. “This also creates a tremendous responsibility for the institution to keep the flame alive, not to allow work to become just a “job.”” (Drucker 150)

To dive deeper take a look at these two books:

Peter Drucker, Managing the Nonprofit Organization
Jonathan McKee, The New Breed: Understanding and Equipping the 21st Century Volunteer

DruckerNew Breed

Next Blog: Empowering the volunteer



  1. Scott says:

    This is awesome!

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