Yesterday, I had the honor and privilege to participate in a panel discussion at the Alleluia Conference at Baylor University on how to recruit and work with volunteers. It was a great opportunity and I was thankful that it was well received.
So….how do you recruit volunteers? Well, there isn’t a “magic bullet” that makes people jump in droves, but I’ll share some things that have (and haven’t) worked for me.
First, what hasn’t worked. Putting something in the bulletin. Most of the time, people don’t read their bulletin. But, if they do, the probability of getting a person to participate isn’t that great. Even, to some extent, me talking with people and encouraging them to participate doesn’t work. The response I have received from many when I talked to them is that it is my job, so it isn’t always taken seriously.
So….what does? Individual outreach. Empowering your group to listen in the congregation, to encourage and invite to participate. While each congregation is different, this is the one thing that has worked the best for me.
Once you get people to show up, how do you keep them participating? Great question. Value them. Value their time. Pray for them. Pray with them. Give opportunities for fellowship. Feed them. Love them. Encourage them. Give them the tools for success.
How do you value the time of your volunteers? Have a plan for your practice. I’ve been in rehearsals where there was no plan, there wasn’t good, clear communication and it was frustrating. Whatever the group, plan ahead, write out the plan to help keep you on track, and go!
A lesson I learned early on in serving as a church musician was to say thank you as often as possible. Your volunteers could be doing anything else with their time, so while saying thank you is simple, it goes a long way.
Fellowship is extremely important. For some, volunteering is one of the few times they have opportunity to interact with people throughout the week. Giving your volunteers that fellowship time is essential. Food also goes a long way in this, because when we fellowship, food gives an extra measure of connectivity.
Finally, praying for your volunteers focuses you on the blessings that their volunteering is to you and to the church. Praying with your volunteers gives them an opportunity to connect on a deeper level, praying with and for one another.
This isn’t an extensive list, and as I said before, each church is different. But these have worked for me. If you’re not trying these ideas, I highly encourage you to. Yes, it is a little more work in the short term, but over the long term, it will be worth it!
If you have things that have worked for you, comment with them, join the conversation at the Harmanny Music group on Facebook, or email me at email@example.com