Activating Volunteers

Volunteers have the power to take your ministry to the next level. If you could just get more help, we could accomplish so much more. We all know that is true. Maybe we see other churches have what seems like an army of volunteers. We think to ourselves, what is the secret? How does this magically happen to other churches while in my ministry I keep hitting wall after wall? Have you ever caught yourself going down this train of thought? I know I have. Here are a few things that I have learned and believe could help you as you try to activate your volunteers.

Change your mindset: Person vs Volunteer

When it comes to recruiting volunteers I always try to remember that it is more about the volunteer as an individual than the need the volunteer is filling. This changes how I go about trying to get volunteers. I believe it is our job as church leadership to enable our people at our church to do the work of ministry.

Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Just like a mother tells her child that God has plan for her child on a regular basis, it is our job to tell our people that God has created them to do good works. It is our job to give them opportunities to serve in the local church. God has shaped each person with a specific purpose in mind. He has given them passions and abilities that are taylor made to serve. We need to connect the dots and help activate our people to volunteer. (See Rick Warren’s S.H.A.P.E and Class 301)

One-on-one conversations

Many times we have the misconception that if you need volunteers put it in the bulletin, in the announcement video, or ask the pastor to announce it. If you could just get your specific requests in front of the congregation, people will hear the need and come running to sign up. The truth is a plea to the congregation often doesn’t give the results you are looking for.

Don’t get me wrong, I still put volunteer opportunities in our announcement video, but I don’t think it is going to be the magic bullet. I have asked many people from other churches what is their most effective way to get volunteers. Across the the board the answer was the same. ONE-ON-ONE CONVERSATIONS ASKING INDIVIDUALS TO JOIN A VOLUNTEER TEAM. From small churches to large churches people say the most effective way to get volunteers is a personal invite.

Create Easy Entry Points

It is important to have easy ways for anyone to start volunteering. The sooner a new person starts to volunteer the bigger of a chance they stick around. I know that someone who has come for two weeks can’t become a deacon overnight, but there should be some volunteer positions that just about anyone can participate in. For us, these easy entry points are greeting and outreach ministries.

We also have a system that keeps the volunteer recruitment moving, so that it doesn’t become stagnant. We have our Starting Point Class that meets monthly for new people. One of the elements of this class is to show people all the places they can volunteer and plug them in. We present the idea that they can “Test Drive” our volunteer teams. People are afraid of commitment, but with Test Drive, they can try things out without feeling like they are stuck forever. Many times after people Test Drive a volunteer team, they end up loving it and stay serving on that team. 

I hope this helps you as you take your ministry to the next level by activating your volunteers. If you would like to learn more about how to create a healthy volunteer base I suggest reading the book “The Volunteer Revolution” by Bill Hybels 

- Tiffany Lyons


Tiffany is the Children's Director & Volunteer Coordinator at High Street Baptist Church in Springfield, MO. Her passion is to have individuals be fully engaged in the church by connecting to community groups and volunteer teams.