No matter the size, denomination, or stage of growth your church is in, chances are you rely heavily on volunteers to make your church’s programs, services and events come together with ease.
If you’re looking to grow your church’s volunteer program, the first place to start is with your recruitment methods. Oftentimes, members of your church are ready and willing to serve, they simply need to be shown how and why.
This list will help you break down accessibility barriers and strengthen recruitment efforts for your church volunteer program.
These recruitment strategies can be applied to any of your ministry volunteer needs—whether you need support for Children’s Ministry, Greeting, Parking, or Technical teams and beyond.
1. Shout it from the rooftops and simplify sign up
It may seem obvious, but the (often overlooked) first step to recruiting more church volunteers is letting your members know there is a need for volunteers.
Think about the touchpoints your members regularly have with your church. Then, leverage those channels to message specific volunteer opportunities.
- Does your church send out an email newsletter? Include your volunteer program details and a link to the sign up form.
- Are you active on social media? Create a few posts with specific messaging for what you’re looking for.
- Ask church leaders to mention volunteer opportunities at the end of services. Incorporate storytelling and real examples wherever possible.
- Assess your print materials. Consider adding a section about volunteer opportunities with a direct ‘call to action’—a place where interested members can sign up.
- Ask current ministry volunteers to spread the word about why they volunteer. Invest in volunteer-specific t-shirts and let them spark the conversation. Organic, word-of-mouth recruitment methods go a long way. In reality, recruitment is everyone’s job!
Don’t forget to include clear instructions on how to sign up wherever you promote your church’s volunteer program. If it’s online, include a direct link!
That brings us to the next step in finding more ministry volunteers: make signing up simple.
We recommend creating a sign up form for both digital and physical use. Print out your form and collect names and email addresses at check-in. Create QR codes for digital signage before and after services. Make sure there is an easily accessible volunteer page on your website. Include a link to the volunteer page at the bottom of your email blasts, and consider adding that link to church leader email signatures.
Try not to ask for too many details right away in the sign up process. Making sign up as easy and quick as possible will help you to mobilize potential church volunteers. You can always get more information as you engage volunteers.
Pro tip: introduce new members to your church volunteer program! When folks first join your church, motivation is usually high to get involved. Plus, volunteering is a great way to create a sense of community at larger churches.
2. Explain why church members should volunteer and what you need help with
As cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf writes, “We need to be connected to not only survive, but also to thrive: deep, meaningful connections are our deepest need.”
So frequently, we believe that mobilizing volunteers for our ministry is us asking for more, more and more from already busy members. What we tend to forget is that, through serving, the volunteer is also helping themselves by cultivating community. In fact, helping others through volunteering has been proven to help volunteers heal.
When sharing your ‘why’, you should also get specific about the needs of your current church volunteer program. Do you need help at Check-In, with the Children's Ministry, or Communion? Being specific can help church members visualize themselves in a volunteer role and be more intentional about signing up for opportunities that align with their skill set and interests.
3. Define ministry volunteer roles and responsibilities
Like any other job, it’s important to provide job descriptions that set expectations for your ministry volunteers. Let volunteers know upfront about the time commitment, necessary experience, length of commitment, and specific responsibilities.
People perform best and are motivated to continue volunteering when they see how their service impacts the overall goals of your church. After all, it’s in our nature to want to contribute to something larger than ourselves. By clearly defining expectations and helping volunteers understand how their service fits into the bigger picture, you’ll minimize confusion and turnover on your journey to strengthening your church’s volunteer program.
The Network has great templates for ministry volunteer job descriptions available to help you get started.
4. Celebrate success and show appreciation for your ministry volunteers
One of the most simple, and yet, most important ways to mobilize members to volunteer at your church is to show appreciation for the ministry volunteers who currently serve.
In Kim Scott’s book Radical Candor, she recommends acknowledging wins (or praising) in public.
Did a volunteer put in extra hours to serve your Children’s Ministry during a holiday? (Time we know could’ve been spent with their immediate family!) Take the time to give them a shout out. You should again consider what channels are available to you to praise in public—for instance, your newsletter, social media and after services are good places to start.
To help volunteer leaders establish a rhythm with acknowledgement, consider creating a ‘Volunteer of the Month’ program—you can leverage social media channels for this, too! Systems like these not only make volunteers feel needed, motivated and appreciated, but they also help to build awareness around your church volunteer program and ensure volunteers are acknowledged consistently.
Depending on the individual volunteer you’re looking to show gratitude for, you may also want to consider private acknowledgement in a one-on-one setting. Deciding how to provide praise is all about knowing and understanding your volunteers as individuals (which any good volunteer coordinator will)! Simply asking folks how they prefer to be acknowledged during the onboarding process is an option, or you can leverage tools like DiSC profiles and the Enneagram to more effectively lead and get to know your volunteers better.
In addition to acknowledgement, it’s key to show appreciation for your volunteers. Quarterly events, giveaways and luncheons are great, but as a leader, simply saying ‘thank you’ and expressing sincere gratitude often goes further than any extravagant displays of appreciation.
5. Provide support for your church volunteer program
Sometimes, particularly during busy seasons like Christmas and Easter, what your ministry volunteers really need is support.
If you’ve tried all of the above recruitment methods and still find it challenging to engage members with your church volunteer program, it may be time to call in experienced, caring support.
If it’s Childrens Ministry support that you need, consider trying an app like SitterTree.
SitterTree is an industry-leading child care app that is transforming the way ministry leaders connect with quality child care providers. With SitterTree, you can easily find, select and pay background-checked child care providers to support your Children’s Ministry team.
Providers on SitterTree aren’t volunteers and will require an hourly rate—but they are reliable, caring professionals who feel like an extension of your team. You can post your first job for free on the app using our code PLAYLISTER23.
Congrats! You’re ready to get started growing your church volunteer program!
To summarize, you can start recruiting new ministry volunteers now by:
- Making the need known
- Making it easy to sign up
- Being specific about what you need volunteer support for
- Creating clear volunteer job descriptions
- Showing gratitude and celebrating success
- Knowing when it’s time to get support
It’s not always easy asking for help, but we hope that by using these tips, you’ll limit turnover, attract new members to serve—and overall—see your church’s volunteer program thrive!