Every year, the Bible Fellowship Church church planters gather for a Church Extension Roundtable Discussion Day. The church planters bring real situations for which they need wisdom and ask the other church planters to share their thoughts and suggestions. One of the topics discussed at this year’s Roundtable Discussion Day was how to get volunteers. This is not a unique problem to church plants.
Anyone involved in church ministry knows it can be a struggle to get volunteers. Here is what the church planters suggested about how to get volunteers:
Before we do anything else, we need to ask the Lord to provide people to volunteer. The Holy Spirit works in each one of us and He can impress upon the hearts of our people to get involved. God is the one who knows what strengths and weaknesses each person has and how they can best serve in their local church.
A general announcement in a bulletin or an email will let the need be known, but directly asking individuals is most effective. Ask without pressuring people. Give a description of what you are asking them to do and then ask them to pray about it and get back to you. Asking people directly will let them know they are needed and will give them an immediate opportunity to ask questions about the task.
Set the bar high
In Scripture, the church is described as a body and a family. In a body, every part has an active function. In a family, everyone chips in and does their part. In the local church, volunteering is not optional. It’s part of belonging. Expect every person to volunteer to do something, at least one thing either big or small.
Create clear volunteer descriptions
What is actually involved in the task? What is the frequency of serving? How long will the person need to commit? 3 months? 6 months? Will they be working with others or by themselves? Sometimes people do not volunteer simply because they do not have enough information. People do not want to sign up for a task blindly. The unknown is nerve-racking!
Hold a ministry fair
Highlight the range of volunteer opportunities by holding a ministry fair. Give each ministry leader a space for them to sit and share examples and pictures of the needed work. Allow people time to travel from table to table to learn the details. A ministry fair creates excitement and gives people an opportunity to ask detailed questions of the ministry leader. You can hold the fair in conjunction with a potluck or other church event.
Encourage volunteers to recruit or train others
People who are volunteering may have a better idea than the ministry leader about who to ask to join in. And if volunteers are asking others to join, the potential volunteer knows the job is not that bad! Depending on the task, this can be a good way to get unbelieving friends and family to volunteer and become familiar with the church or church plant and pave the way for them to hear about Jesus’ love.
Volunteering is key to seeing church plant attenders become committed participants. Continue to pray for the Bible Fellowship Church plants as the people grow in the Lord while serving others in the church plant and in the community.
This article was compiled by Church Planter Tim Zuck from Forks Community Church and Rachel Schmoyer, Office Assistant of Church Extension Ministries. Find out more about Church Extension Ministries at ChurchPlantingBFC.org.