EP 206 – RECRUITING VOLUNTEERS
Hey there Bootcampers, we’re glad you joined us today. Jimbo and Bob spend some time laughing and then get down to the important discussion of recruiting volunteers. Neither Jimbo or Bob have ever heard the leaders of a normative sized church say; “We just have too many volunteers.”
What do you do if you’re struggling to get the help you need? Sit back, listen in and maybe even take a few notes and see if it helps your church in discovering, developing an deploying the volunteers you need.
- Start with Why When people understand the “why,” they grasp the broader context and purpose, which ignites their passion and commitment.
- Conveying Purpose: When you clarify the “why,” you answer questions about the importance of the task at hand. What’s the point? Why does it matter? By addressing these questions, you provide a compelling reason for volunteers to get involved. The “why” becomes the driving force behind their participation.
- Inspiring Ownership: The “why” empowers volunteers to take ownership of their roles. When individuals comprehend the impact of their contributions, they are more likely to be invested and proactive in fulfilling their responsibilities.
- Building a Community: Sharing the “why” fosters a sense of community and camaraderie among volunteers. They understand that they’re part of something greater than themselves, forging stronger connections and fostering a shared sense of purpose.
Invest in Volunteers volunteers are not merely free labor; they are the lifeblood of church revitalization. Acknowledging this truth and recognizing the different motivations of volunteers compared to paid staff is crucial.
- Resource Investment: Just as you invest in staff, allocate resources for volunteers’ growth. Provide opportunities for them to expand their skills and knowledge through books, workshops, conferences, and training programs. A well-equipped volunteer is an empowered one.
- Time and Support: Good volunteers require your time and support. Don’t delegate and forget. Regularly check in, offer guidance, and be available to address their concerns. Building relationships with volunteers fosters loyalty and a sense of value.
- Celebration and Recognition: Celebrate volunteers’ achievements, both big and small. Publicly acknowledge their efforts during services, gatherings, or through social media. When their dedication is acknowledged, volunteers feel appreciated and motivated to continue contributing.
Praising and Celebrating Volunteers
Amid the busyness of ministry, taking the time to celebrate your volunteers is not a luxury but a necessity.
- Public Praise: Recognize volunteers’ contributions publicly, whether during services, meetings, or newsletters. Highlight their achievements and express gratitude for their dedication. This not only validates their efforts but also encourages others to get involved.
- Individual Recognition: Get to know your volunteers on a personal level. Understand their strengths, interests, and passions. By aligning their roles with their skills and passions, you show that you value their uniqueness.
- Milestones and Faithfulness: Celebrate moments of faithfulness and commitment. When volunteers reach milestones, commemorate their journey. These celebrations reinforce the sense of purpose and encourage others to persist in their service.
What have you learned about volunteers in your church? We’d love to hear from you and share your successes. Drop us a line, send us a voicemail, share a comment.
Get the help you need for your church’s social media and web presence. Contact the great folks over at One Eighty Digital
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are. Back at the bootcamp. Back at it again. Another episode of the Replan Bootcamp here with your host, Bob Bickford and Jimbo Stewart.
Bob Bickford: Jimbo. I’m not in the gritty trench today, but I am in the sweaty Midwest.
JimBo Stewart: Oh, man. Yeah. Yeah. We’re, we’re hitting, I’m, I’m, I am getting hydrated up.
Bob Bickford: Yo
JimBo Stewart: trip. Trip and I have a all day disc golf tournament the day after we record this and. The heat index is I think like 105 tomorrow. So I’m just, I’m trying to like pre, pre-game hydrate today, so I don’t have, I don’t have my normal small, like I have like a full Nalgene bottle over here.
This is like my third Nalgene bottle of the day trying to, to pre-game.
Bob Bickford: I saw that, I was wondering if you were getting ready to have a colonoscopy or something. ’cause you were, you’re drinking man, you’re just drinking and drinking and drinking. So I, I was kind of wondering but, my, dog daisy pup, when she got sick and dehydrated, they shot, uh, a bunch of fluid in the back of [00:01:00] her back.
And so she had like this camel hump. Maybe you should try that and you wouldn’t have to drink so much.
JimBo Stewart: Just, install it in the back of my back. Like a, I mean, they, they have camelback backpacks. I could, I mean, get,
Bob Bickford: no, no, no. That’s, that’s too much. It’s
like makes you sweaty under the pits. Just get a big syringe and just pump your, pump, the space between your shoulders full of fluid, and then over time your body will absorb it. And I mean, for, for a few minutes or a few holes, you would look like the hunchback of Notre Dame,
JimBo Stewart: yeah, yeah. I think, I think I’ll let you test drive that and then, and then let me know how it goes and, it goes well, then maybe I’ll consider it.
Bob Bickford: Well, I’m not going outside unless the house is on fire. or the dogs really have to get outside. So that’s, I’m, I’m stating it is supposed to cool off to 87 tonight. That’s gonna happen around nine 30 or 10 30. I might go out then. but tomorrow, tomorrow we’re in [00:02:00] the, uh, eighties to low, low to high eighties, and it’s gonna feel like winter and we’re gonna
JimBo Stewart: yeah, man. So this is gonna come out right after the replant summit has finished. So you, you’ve made it home and you’re chilling, you’re hanging out, and hopefully it’s a little less hot. So maybe it started to cool down where you’re at and, you’re, you’re jumping back into the bootcamp.
We’re glad to have you with us. What I wanna talk about today, Bob, is maybe one of the on most consistent struggles, In church life, but especially in normative sized churches, revitalizations, replants. But it seems to be true in almost every church is recruiting volunteers like. It’s one of the most consistent, difficult challenges.
Like I don’t know that I’ve ever encountered a church that was like, man, we just have too many people volunteering. Like we, like, we don’t even know where to put ’em. Like they’re just everywhere.
Bob Bickford: Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: and so [00:03:00] there’s always the issue with, man, we need more people to help serve in various areas.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I mean, that’s true. I, in the normative sized church, You, you, you struggle to have greeters. You struggle, struggle to have children’s workers. Oftentimes you see your spouse filling the gaps. Sometimes you struggle to have musicians and, folks to run sound. And it just, man. the, the worst time for a pastor’s phone to ring Jimbo is Sunday morning or anytime after 8:00 PM on Saturday night.
Right. Do you just know somebody’s calling you to either tell you? you got a hospital situation, or they’re not gonna be able to volunteer tomorrow.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. Yeah, it’s tough man. And so what I wanna do is, is today just give a couple of tips for, recruiting volunteers and kind of creating a culture, where it’s easier to get people to volunteer to think. So the first thing is, I think you have to start with the why behind. What you’re asking them to do.
The what is really [00:04:00] easy, right? We need two people to be greeters. We need two people in the nursery. We need whatever the how can is usually even, you know, maybe not as easy as the what to figure out, but a little bit, Hey, I need you to do this. I need you to, here’s how you do that. but the, the why often gets overlooked and we don’t communicate it.
So what do we communicate? We stand up in front of the congregation on Sunday morning. We we’re, we’ve been singing a song and all of a sudden we get up for our 15 minutes of announcements and we say, hey, just so you guys know, we really need two more people to serve in the, the preschool area. so come see me or go see Linda if, if you want to do that.
Right? And that’s all we communicate is, Hey, we need this. And it’s just the what, here’s what we need. I’ve heard it said a lot of different ways. I’ve heard some, I’ve heard it said, I don’t even remember where, don’t say we need talk about, there’s an opportunity. and that’s kind of a step closer to the idea, but what I’m trying to get behind Bob is, is like, what if instead of, Hey, we need to.
Preschool workers, you say [00:05:00] something like, man, we are so excited that we have kids in this church. And, we also know that for, for moms that are taking care of kids and dads all week, man on Sunday morning, it’s kind of a breath of fresh air to, to the, especially the littlest ones, to let somebody else invest in them and pour into them.
While they get to sit and, and be a part of the service. And so, we’re looking for two people that want to help us bless children. And, you know, it doesn’t have to be exactly that. What I’m trying to get to is like, if we can just, if you gotta communicate the why before just the what, Hey, we need two people to do this, but like, what, what’s, what’s the point?
What, what are we trying to really accomplish?
Bob Bickford: Sure, let me make a run at it. Like you, you’re, you might be up there and you’re thinking, we know that children learn best in a particular kind of environment, and so we wanna provide that environment for them. So that’s a little bit of a technical thought, but the why behind that is God loves kids [00:06:00] and Jesus made them a priority and.
In fact, the, the people around him and the culture around him did not value children like he valued children. And so one of the things that we see in the scriptures is it’s important to value kids. So hey, church family, we want to be obedient disciples. We wanna be like Jesus. And we want to provide excellent environment for environments for kids to learn about Jesus.
And we are building a team. That provides a clear, a beautiful environment for kids to be excited and loved and welcomed encouraged and equipped to understand that God loves them. And so we’re excited to extend an opportunity for you to come join that team and make a difference in the kids’ life.
And you know what? Some of these kids don’t have grandparents that are close by, and some of you don’t have grandkids that are close either. And this is a great opportunity for the church to be, the church to be intergenerational. And we’re inviting you to make a difference in the life of kids. So, Go see Linda,
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, no, I love that. It’s, I mean, we, we gotta get behind just the what and, and, [00:07:00] and communicate the why. When I think, Bob, when people understand the why, they grasp the broader context, the purpose, which can give them a passion, a commitment. I think they’re at least three things that getting behind the why also help us do one, it conveys the purpose.
So when you clar, when you clarify the why, you answer questions about the importance of the task at hand. So what’s the point? Why does it matter? and by addressing these questions, you provide a compelling reason for volunteers to get involved. the why becomes the driving force behind their participation, not just the what, not just filling a hole.
And in that, I. Here’s the second thing I think it does, is it inspires them to have some ownership in it. Like they rec, recognize that they’re part of something and the why. The why behind it empowers volunteers to take ownership of their roles and so when, when people comprehend the impact of what they’re doing, they’re more likely to continue to be invested, proactive, fulfilling their responsibilities.
Here’s the third thing it does. I think it builds community. [00:08:00] So sharing the why fosters a sense of community and comradery amongst volunteers, and they understand that they’re part of something that’s greater than themselves. Forging stronger connections and fostering a shared sense of purpose. And ultimately that creates a culture where people like being volunteers.
And when you create a culture where people like being volunteers, it’s much easier to recruit volunteers.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, absolutely. I, you know, Jim Biden, I think little kids ask the why question all the time. They just want to know the reason behind. The reason behind the reason behind, and, and so I think that there’s a natural instinct in everybody to, to say that, You know why I think sometimes there’s, there’s also a why that, that, I don’t want to get us off on a tangent, but the why of, why don’t we have enough volunteers?
Right. Well, it’s probably because you haven’t been communicating the why. Right. That feels like a little circular, like that feels a circular kind of a comment. But, people respond to vision and mission and [00:09:00] people wanna make a difference with their lives. So I love that. That’s the first point.
JimBo Stewart: yeah. So they wanna be a part of something. I think, again, continuing on the idea of creating a, a culture where people, I. Enjoy being volunteers. I think you have to recognize that you have to invest in volunteers and part of that you have to invest in it. ’cause one, you gotta recognize volunteers aren’t just free labor. They’re the lifeblood of church revitalization. We have talked so much on this podcast and we’ll continue to talk about Ephesians four 11 through 16 and how when each part plays its role properly, the church will build itself up in love. Romans chapter 12, the body, I mean, you could go, I mean, I could, you know, I could talk about this for hours and this, I mean, this really is the lifeblood of a healthy church is a good volunteer system, people.
Fulfilling the roles that God has given them. And so when we acknowledge this and recognize that, one, we’re not paying them, which means their motivations are different than paid staff. And so we’ve gotta recognize that. But [00:10:00] don’t just go, don’t just delegate and dump and go, okay, well they’re volunteering, they’re doing it great.
It’s taken care of, I think. I think you’ve gotta, I think you’ve gotta invest in your volunteers in at least three ways. I’m gonna list these out and then I wanna hear your feedback on ’em. Bob one. I think we gotta invest in a, with resources, just like you invest in your staff, you need to allocate resources for volunteers growth.
You need to provide opportunities for ’em to expand their skills and acknowledge through books and workshops and conferences and training programs. I mean, a well-equipped volunteer is one that feels appreciated and loved and empowered. Second, you gotta invest your time and your support. Again. You can’t just delegate and, and dump you and just go, all right, well, it’s done Good.
Volunteers require your time and your support so regularly. Check in, offer guidance, be available to address their concerns, build relationships with them. That’s a big part of this, and fosters loyalty and a sense of value. This is where I’d take you back. We had, uh, Bob Bumgarner on at one point talking about situational [00:11:00] leadership, so you can kinda understand where they’re at in that point and what kind of development you need to put.
And then lastly, you, you invest in them by celebrating them and recognizing what they’re doing. Celebrate volunteers achievements, both the big ones and the small ones. Publicly acknowledge their efforts, like say it out loud in the service, in your gatherings or through social media. And when you de, when you do that, you, you help them feel appreciated and motivated.
And, man, I used to love coming up like really fun, creative ways to, to do this. And so we would at least once a year, Have volunteer banquets where, you know, where we would serve them. And I would bring in other people from other churches even to help me.
and I would find a sister church and be like, can some of your people come help me serve our volunteers so that my volunteers aren’t serving? And, we did a whole night where it was like, Italian food themed night. I wore a whole chef outfit. I made my associate pastor shave his beard, d his mustache black.
So he could
look like a, like we did. All we did, we went all out. And so I, I mean, just have fun and enjoy each [00:12:00] other and celebrate each other, but you’ve gotta invest in your volunteers.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. So I mean, you can scale on this from, you know, the normative sized church that doesn’t have a lot of resources to the mega church that has a, a truckload, right? So I think the, big point here is that you’re conveying is give them what they need to do their work well. And if that’s, curriculum or that’s technology or whatever, it’s like resource them so that they can do their job, put them in an air conditioned room for goodness sake, you know, remove the dangerous toys, have the exterminator come to kill the roaches, and you know, all that stuff.
So they’re not kids areas that are dangerous. then just take time to occasionally ask them how they’re doing and then celebrate them in whatever way you can. You know, I’ve done everything from a, a, dinner to like a dinner and a, like a comedian and a concert or just a note with a journal or a bag of coffee or finding out what their favorite thing is.
And particularly in the [00:13:00] normative sized church we’re talking about, there’s a handful of people who are serving typically, and there’s some things that you can do. And then the thing I would also say, Jimbo, is build this into the budget. build this into the budget, or find one of those funds that you just haven’t used in, years and years and years.
And then talk to whoever you have to talk to, finance committee, trustees, deacons, and just say, guys, let’s use this fund to, to, celebrate and reward our volunteers and recognize them and, and ways that will help them feel thanked and valued. And I love the idea of celebrating volunteers. You could do that even by simply public recognition.
Jimbo, I think there’s. There’s nothing more valuable than public recognition and affirmation and most people never get that their entire
lives. And you don’t have to throw a big banquet or give everybody iPads or something like that. Just a kind, a kind word of affirmation, to them in recognition, I think fills people’s hearts and they’ll remember it.
and while you’re doing it, say the same thing in a card and hand it to them so that after [00:14:00]you’ve said it publicly, they can keep that with them. ’cause most of us keep those, those encouraging affirmative notes that people write us.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, absolutely. I think, I mean especially in this day and age, a handwritten note has a, a lot of power and, I mean, I was I even going back for a second on the invest in them in like training opportunities. That may not sound like fun, but I’m gonna tell you, nothing says to a volunteer, Hey, what you do is really important.
Like saying, Hey, I want to invest in that. I wanna two, and so, you know, maybe conferences and stuff like that aren’t, you know, something you can pull off. But here’s what you can do. You can call your state convention or your local association and you can say, Hey, do you have somebody? Or can you recommend somebody within our network of churches that could come speak to our children’s ministry workers?
And encourage them and, and empower them. And so I would do this all the time at Redemption and have people from different churches and from the association come, and talk with our youth ministry or talk with our children’s ministry volunteers or our [00:15:00] security, I mean, every area and, and look, don’t, don’t forget those areas, like security ministry or things that you’re not thinking about the guys in the parking lot or, I mean, you have no idea.
How important it is to some, some people to be able to serve in the way that they get to serve and be a blessing. And so invest in that as much as you can, build relationships. This is such an opportunity to build relationships. One of the things I’ve talked about a lot of times is service opportunities.
A really great way to do what I call Ninja Discipleship, where you disciple people without them knowing they’re being discipled.
You know, here we have a lot of blue collar guys that are never gonna join a group of guys sitting around at a coffee shop and opening their Bible and talking about how the Bible made them feel that week.
That sounds like the worst possible thing you could ever ask them to do. so, but. I can, I could call them and right now and say, Hey, I’ve got four toilets overflowing. The air conditioner’s not working [00:16:00] and this room needs to be painted. And they would like with joy, go, Hey, let’s fix it. Let’s run up there.
Let’s do this.
Bob Bickford: It sounds like, it sounds like the youth group had a lock in at Taco Bell, Jimbo. Overflowing. The conditioner stopped working and the room now needs to be painted. I know if you strung all that together, but that, that was gold, man. That.
JimBo Stewart: but I mean, you call, you call a blue collar guy and you ask him, Hey, come help me fix these things. Show me how to fix this. Show me how to do this. They will do that 10 times more likely than they’ll ever sit down and have. A conversation with you on purpose about the Bible, their faith, their feelings.
But this, I mean, you start to build these relationships and it’s just a phenomenal opportunity, to disciple people. and that’s where, I mean, I would always encourage our volunteers that led teams of volunteers like, look, use this as an opportunity [00:17:00] to build relationships with the people that are on your team.
Not just you Don’t, just don’t. Just utilize them. To accomplish task. Like you gotta, you gotta go into the relational aspect of this thing, because that’s part, I mean, that’s part of what being the body is. It’s not just getting things done. It’s the relationships that we have with each other.
Bob Bickford: A hundred percent. I think the, this might be a whole episode on its own is if you’re building relationships, you’ve gotta think about how to ask good questions. Right? And so, you know, the real super spiritual among us can, may, can ask a question that maybe came from like Richard Foster or Dallas Willard, like, how was your soul?
Right. Well, the guy wearing overalls may not know how to answer that. Right. but if you go, man, how’s it going at home? Like, how’s your kids? How’s your family? How, how, how’s your wife? Or Hey, what’s, what’s, challenging about being in your stage of life right now? how are your aging parents? Or, you know, what, what do you, uh, what do you hope for yourself here in the next two, three years?
Right. Just, you’re just asking questions and what will happen is kind of that, and particularly I think you’ve highlighted the fact that guys have a hard time talking [00:18:00] about. what’s going on with them? And, and even too, Jimbo, I think some ladies do too, because guys just don’t talk sometimes about what’s going on with them.
And then ladies feel the pressure to be perfect. And so if you just ask really good questions in a while, you’re doing something. And I’ve always heard this, that if you want to get to know a dude, like go do something side by side, shoulder to shoulder, watch a baseball game, play Frisbee, golf, play golf, chop wood, build a fence, you know, and that.
Through that time, side by side, non face-to-face, you’re gonna get some deep conversations. So do that with your volunteers and, maybe several of them. And, and, ’cause sometimes you have a con, you have a, a really key volunteer that’s just a, an incredible introvert and doesn’t have a conversation. And, and if you toss them, the conversational football, they never toss it.
They just hold onto it and you’re like, this is the most awkward conversation. And so you need that extra person in there to kinda spice things up a little bit. But just, Think about it, be intentional about it, but do it.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah.
Bob Bickford: do it.
JimBo Stewart: I think one of the things you can do that eventually as you start to build a [00:19:00]relationship with somebody like that to break the ice that I’ve done is usually people will answer, the people that go to church will answer the question, Hey, how can I pray for you? with, you know, and they’ll get into some things.
But then what I like to do, eventually not the first time is, you know, every time I talk to him, Hey man, how can I pray for you right now? but then eventually what I’ll do, you know, Hey Bob, how can I pray for you? You tell me how I can pray for you, and then I look at you and I go, Hey, Bob, could you pray for me?
here’s some things going on and, you know, we’ve got this and, you know, my sister’s health and, you know, trips, learning how to drive and about to be on his own with that. And, and I, you know, I start to just open up to you about some things and, and just say, Hey, would you commit to, you know, I, you know, we’ve been meeting regularly and I’ve been praying for you.
Would you just return the favor and commit to pray for me in that? And here’s, here’s why I do that. one, I wanna show them vulnerability that I’m a human being. Not just like them, not, you know, pastors aren’t super human or they’re not super spiritual. but then two, it’s a pretty high possibility.
They don’t pray. Like, and so now I’ve given them something. That’s not about them, [00:20:00] about me. A way that they can serve me by praying for me. And I found they’re more likely in that scenario to actually start praying some and just begin that process. And you never know where that might go. here’s one of the things I wanna say.
We had talked, we started this whole conversation talking about, you know, the announcements and starting with the why. Here’s what I, I, I just want to throw a caveat and a challenge. understand the announcements are probably the least effective place to recruit volunteers. we think we’re doing good because it’s efficient and everybody hears us.
I promise you, no one hears you. like I can remember so many times I, you know, I would announce things 5,000 times in ways and my wife would be like, so when is that thing or, Like, and I’d be like, golly, we’ve tweeted it, we’ve text messaged it, we’ve emailed it, we’ve put it in the bulletin.
We’ve announced it on every Sunday morning for the last six weeks. Like, how do you not know? and so people are not listening to you when you’re doing the announcements
most times. But when you, when you can [00:21:00] talk to somebody and you can explain to them, Hey, here’s why. Give ’em the why and then go, here’s what I’ve noticed.
I’ve noticed you are really patient with kids and you’re really sweet with kids. would you be willing to at least once a month come in there and just use that gift that God has given you, to help us? And, you know, like, and, and you, you start to get to again, relationships. You gotta get to know people in order to know what they’re good at.
And as you get to know people and you start to identify and see, I’ve noticed what you’re really good at, and you know what’s good is we have an opportunity for you to do that for the good of the body. And so, you know, and then you explain the why, why that ministry is important. And you ask directly.
That’s like asking, if you ask five people one-on-one every Sunday, that’ll give you a hundred fold better response than putting in the announcements every day for a year.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, we, fall into the trap of relying on the bulletin and the announcements or the PowerPoints. Or the Facebook or something. And most of [00:22:00] the time people are still talking while the announcements are going on ’cause they wanna say hi to each other. there are some folks who, like my wife, she reads the newsletter, she reads the bulletin, like she just knows what’s going on.
Right. Me, because I’m kind of a visionary relational guy, I kind of have a general idea that we’re doing something. but then I’ll say, now, when is that thing? and so I think you have to think about the communication patterns of styles people, and, be very careful with your announcements.
But I, I think if you. Like you’ve been saying through this whole, whole podcast so far, when you tie it to vision and mission and values and you answer the why, and then you adjoin that to the specific announcement about whatever it is that you’re asking people to do, if it’s volunteering, it’s likely to have little more impact.
A little more impact, right? And, and to help, them understand, oh, okay, now this is, and then if you clearly say now, These are, these heard some great things and this is a great opportunity. Here’s what you do next, right? Everybody take out your bulletin, right? Everybody grab your phone. We’re [00:23:00] gonna text, you know, you know, some of you’re interested, like, just give them a practical next step, but ask the whole congregation to do it right at the same time.
That way people don’t feel like they’re responding alone, but they’re respon. They might be responding together. Try some of those things and see if they make a difference and then call us up or, or write us a note and let us know if they work or not.
JimBo Stewart: That’s excellent. Hey, last thing I wanna say is if you enjoyed the Replant Summit or, and you want more, or if you missed the Replant Summit, you’ve got another chance to catch me and Bob together with L Hefe, mark Clifton. And, some special guest, Richard Blackaby. You may have heard of that guy before.
Joe Kreer, who we’ve had on the podcast, Frank Lewis, who we’ve had on the podcast. we have the Revived Summit coming up in Birmingham, September 12th and 13th. Registration is free. and so if you go to church re planters.com, scroll down to you’ll till you see events, you’ll see the information there.
Reive Summit, two days September 12th and 13th. It’s really good time together with me and [00:24:00] Bob and Mark and Richard and Frank and Joe. it’s man. if you, if you enjoyed the Replant Summit, this is a little different vibe, a little different deal. and I think it’ll be encouraging to you if you miss the Replant Summit and you’re really sad ’cause you wanted to come hang out with Bob and I in person, this is another opportunity for you.
Bob Bickford: Come and see us.