This post was written by Marta Cortez, a member of the INCM Blog team.
We can all agree that volunteer recruitment is an essential part of our roles as kidmin leaders.
Let’s face it: we could not do what we do in ministry without a healthy and expanding volunteer team.
But how do we grow our volunteers for large events like VBS, fall festivals, Easter, and Christmas when we often struggle to secure enough volunteers to staff our ongoing weekly programs?
Is there a magic formula to enlist people to do God’s work?
I don’t have a magic formula, but I can share 6 ways that have proven helpful to me in expanding my volunteers for large events.
1. Always Start with Prayer
“Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:38 NIV
I know it sounds like a no brainer, but bathing the event in prayer and intercession is vital.
Prayer helps your eyes see more clearly who He is drawing by His spirit to serve.
Oftentimes, we are working hard to meet a timeline and we may not do the hard work of intercession that is so vital.
Oswald Chambers reminds us in this article, “We must learn to work according to God’s direction, and He says to pray. Prayer does not equip us for greater works–prayer is the greater work.”
2. Tie Service to the Vision
Simply saying, “we need more volunteers” does not always get the results we desire.
People respond to vision and not to need.
Always give the WHY instead of the WHAT.
For example, instead of saying, “I need 50 additional volunteers for our Easter weekend,” you can say, “Easter is one of the most attended services in our church. We see lots of first-time attendees. When you serve, those families can hear the Gospel without worrying about the care of their young child and you get to be a part of the work God is doing to change their eternal destiny.”
If you want them to serve as greeters, you can talk to them about all the first-time guests that make a decision to come back very early in their experience at the church.
So, warmly welcoming them could be the thing that makes the difference if they will return or not.
Always give a compelling WHY.
3. Don’t Fish in the Same Pond
Look beyond your current volunteer base.
Sometimes we get tunnel vision and only see the volunteers we know are right in front of us week in and week out.
If we are not careful, we can burn these volunteers out by stretching them too thin.
Instead, look beyond your current base to seek additional people resources within your church, but also within your community.
- Establish partnerships with a Christian high school or college near your church. You will need to lay some groundwork in safety and security and create initial relationships. Still, once established, it can indeed be a way to add a team of energetic students to your next large event. You may even help a student discover their passion for church service
- Seek out a public university near you and connect with their Christian college groups. If you don’t have a Christian university near you can connect with your local college. Most public colleges have Christian groups that meet regularly such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Baptist Collegiate Ministries, Wesley Foundation, etc. Contact the school or check out their website to connect with their college group leader and make an appointment to present the partnership opportunity to the student team. You may have to bring donuts, but it is a worthwhile investment of your time that could pay big dividends for the Kingdom.
- Build a seasonal team. Offer volunteers that cannot serve on regular weekends the opportunity to serve on your team seasonally. I have found that when a volunteer says no to serving on regular weekends, they have a yes left for your seasonal team. Serving in smaller segments of the year is an easier yes for many that may be hesitant to serving regularly.
4. Create a Confetti Culture
Thanking and appreciating volunteers is a crucial part of volunteer care and retention.
Follow up within 48 hours of serving to thank them.
Give them one “win” from the event you can share with them.
Send a text, a note card, a short video thanking them.
Let them see they were a part of the big picture of all God did that day.
5. Train Them for Success
Don’t just throw them in their role without orientation, training, and equipping.
Onboard for big events with intentionality.
Pair them with an experienced volunteer and train that volunteer to give their job away.
Find out what they love to do—don’t just use them to fill a hole.
Set them up for success.
If you don’t do this, you risk frustrating a new volunteer and they may never come back to serve.
Clarify expectations. Communicate excitement.
6. Pool Your Resources
Partner with another church.
Congregations can partner together for a greater impact on their community during big events like VBS, Fall Bash, or even parenting conferences.
What other congregation is nearby your church that you collaborate with?
Start a networking group with those leaders to see how you can support each other and dream big dreams together for maximum Gospel impact in your community.
We pooled resources with another church for a large parenting conference and it was a success.
We joined volunteer teams to serve as kids’ leaders during the conference and it allowed for more impact on more parents.
A definite win for both congregations plus it felt great to be in unity as the body of Christ for a common goal.
With these ideas in mind, how can you successfully recurit more volunteers for your next event?
What are some ways you have expanded your volunteer base for large events?
Whatever event your church has that needs volunteers, you can find a way to invite more people to serve in fulfilling and fun ways.
Marta Cortez is an innovative leader with a passion for family ministry. She is dedicated to equipping leaders and seeing kids come to know Christ. She has served in many roles across her ministry career. Serving in churches of various sizes, including a megachurch, has developed her management skills and ability to tailor programs and leadership models to accommodate ministry needs. Marta has been married for nearly 40 years and has two beautiful daughters. In her spare time, Marta loves baking, good coffee, and trips to the beach. You can reach out to her at kid[email protected].