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The 7 Deadly Sins Of Inviting Volunteers

Sin #1: Expect announcements to get volunteers. An announcement may get a couple of volunteers, but usually those are the people who are volunteering anyway. People must be challenged individually. A challenge to everybody with an announcement is in fact a challenge to nobody.

Sin #2: Ask by yourself. You need a team to help you invite volunteers. Try to recruit people who are "connectors" in the church. Put them together as a special inviting task force that operates like a nominating committee. The key element is to brainstorm about people who could fit the roles you need.

Sin #3: Ask For, and Expect Long-Term Commitments. Just remember that short-term projects provide excellent “first dates”—they’re how you find your long-term volunteers. Give people the opportunity to try on your ministry to see how it fits. Short-term volunteers have the opportunity to catch your ministry’s vision as they work closely with a passionate leader.

Sin #4: Assume That “No” Means “Never”. Sometimes a “no” only means that a prospective volunteer would rather do something other than the role you’ve described. Probe to find out what the person likes to do and what their gifts are, then see if there’s a match for that person in your (or someone else's) ministry.

Sin #5: Recruit Just Warm Bodies. It is easy to get in the mindset of just needing to fill slots and needs within your ministry..but you don't just want warm bodies, rather you want people with warm hearts toward your ministry. You want people whose gifts, skills and abilities are a good match for your ministry.

Sin #6: Recruit to the need. People don't want to hear a desperate plea of how you need volunteers. You don't recruit to the need, rather you recruit to the vision. Most people don't volunteer out of guilt because you tell them that your ministry team is in desperate need of volunteers. Rather most people volunteer because they are compelled by the vision. Paint and cast that compelling vision for your prospective volunteers.

Sin #7: Keep Leadership all to Yourself. A good leader should be thinking of replacing themselves. You should be developing future leadership within your ministry, not just hoarding all the leadership responsibility for yourself. One day God may call you to step out of your leadership role. When that day happens, who is going to replace you? Are you going to leave a vacuum?

(ht: The New Breed by Jonathan and Thomas McKee)


As a nursery director for our church, I'm finding it so hard to recruit volunteers. We've done the announcements and just about everything else I could think of. Our church has grown so much in the past 4 years, but the amount of volunteers in the nursery has not grown much at all. People drop off the schedule and new one hardly ever come on.


Getting nursery volunteers is not an easy endeavor...because the little ones that are ministered to rarely if ever say thank you and often times it only gets noticed by the congregation when it's "not" happening..

I would recommend two things - recruit the type of volunteers that recruit others. These are the "connector" types that Malcolm Gladwell talks about. These are people that every knows and many people follow. Identify who they are, and recruit them if they are not already serving...and then turn them into a ministry team that is responsible for recruiting. They will do so naturally, willing and actively.

The other thing to consider is find ways to get your youth involved. We have used youth volunteers with a lot of success. They love kids and are eager to be used. Work closely with your Middle school and High School director to get these kids in the nursery.

These are just some quick thoughts.


God works the way he wants to, and to call any of the ways he uses "Sins" is presuptuous and mildly offensive.
They may not be the best ways, but often they work, and in some situations they may be good.

Just because they work doesn't mean they are good...and even if they are good and work doesn't mean that they are the best.

You might wanna check out "Rules of church work" by Dag Heward-Mills. Great book on every aspect of ministry work. Also a great aid to any profession in the circular world.

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