Healthy and mature ministry teams, whether paid staff or volunteer, are united and deeply rooted in their purpose. Practically speaking, how do we make this a reality on the teams we lead?
Finding consistent rhythms of recruiting and developing leaders helps us equip volunteers for works of service that build up our faith community (Ephesians 4:11-12). And that results in the children in our ministry contexts being led by volunteers who are excited about, and in wonder of, God’s big story.
For some of us, recruiting can be intimidating. It can cause that nervous feeling in our stomachs. The thought of braving discomfort and rejection to ask someone to volunteer in the midst of their typically busy schedule isn’t easy. So, let’s offer an alternative term: inviting.
As you lead your team, there is always an opportunity to ask the question, “Who can I invite into this story?” God uses you and your team—with all of their strengths, weaknesses, imperfections, and general humanness—to accomplish His purposes.
Every person on your team has unique gifts, personality traits, and experiences. God uses it all to lead children to wonder about who He is. And while that’s already amazing in and of itself, He also pursues and refines your volunteers as they participate in your ministry.
Let this truth influence the way you think about “recruiting.” You have the unique opportunity to invite people into a community on a mission. This mission is led and empowered by God’s Spirit.
As you think practically about who to invite to your team, keep it simple. Here are three prompts to get started:
- Who is in your sphere of influence?
- Who is committed and actively engaged in the life of your church (or has a hunger to be)?
- Who is God placing on your heart and your mind?
I have found myself needing to focus more attention on recruiting than usual (maybe you’re there too!). I spent time daily praying and reaching out to 10 people to invite them to the team. Of course, there were many “noes.” However, I was amazed at the ways God provided.
Relationships were deepened. Joy was found in inviting parents and friends into something that I deeply love and find purpose in. It proved to be an opportunity to trust and celebrate the ways God is at work in my community.
I have found that much of the intimidation of recruiting can come when we try to do the work in our own strength. When we partner with Him and follow His leading, this work becomes a story that tells of His goodness.
Once you’ve invited new volunteers onto your team, the exciting work of developing leaders begins. This can seem intimidating, especially if you have a large volunteer team. Developing leaders can be viewed as an invitation for a deeper partnership in ministry. This partnership can best utilize each volunteer’s unique gifts.
The best developing work that you do as a ministry leader will be a direct result of your intentionality in relationships. Developing volunteers is not a short process. It is deeply impactful to both the volunteers and the children you lead.
Here are a few questions to consider as you develop leaders on your team:
- Do I understand my volunteer’s gifts and passions?
- Do my volunteers understand their own gifts and passions?
- Who on my team am I investing time and energy into developing?
- What specific opportunities can I provide for my volunteers as I work to develop them as leaders?
There is wisdom in acknowledging our limits. I find it effective to invest in high-level volunteers. I equip them to partner with me in shepherding our team well. Your volunteers will benefit from having multiple leaders pouring into them and guiding them.
Creating a system of check-ins with volunteers at regular intervals can create needed accountability. These conversations may look like hearing each volunteer’s feedback about their serving role, asking how you can encourage and pray for them, and thinking through ways they can best utilize their gifts within the ministry.
As with anything, it’s easy for recruiting and developing to be discouraging when you’re in it alone. So, don’t be in it alone! Invite your current volunteers to join you. How fun would it be for your volunteers to regularly pray for the growth of your team? Or to celebrate new volunteers joining your team and support each other in opportunities for increased leadership?
I witnessed a great example of this a few weeks ago. There is a high school volunteer on my team who has teaching gifts and wisdom beyond her years. I invited her to think about leading our preschool large group teaching time.
When she showed up to try this out for the first time, our team cheered her on, affirmed her for trying this, and encouraged her with great feedback after service. What a way to build confidence and ownership in a young and capable leader!
Inviting people onto your team and developing their leadership is fun work to be a part of. Let this be an opportunity to intentionally seek growth for your team and trust that God is your faithful provider. As you lead your team into a mindset of inviting, your community will be one that is marked by unity in the mission of serving the next generation.