One of the best things we can do to help a kid experience community is to give them a trusted adult who knows them, loves them, and shows up consistently.
But if there’s one thing every church probably has in common, it’s this: no one has enough consistent volunteers
Maybe you don’t have very many volunteers at all.
Or maybe you have a bunch of volunteers, but they’re not very consistent.
So, how do we find more consistent adults?
How do we inspire the volunteers we’ve got to show up more often?
How do we turn inconsistent volunteers into fully engaged, can’t-get-enough, this-is-what-I’m-made-to-do leaders?
There’s a lot to say about this topic. Someone should probably write a book about it. But when it comes to recruiting consistent volunteers, there’s one principle I think we need to talk about.
It’s won’t solve every problem.
It won’t make incredible volunteers materialize out of thin air.
But it’s a great place to start.
And it’s something every church leader can do, right now.
If we want consistent volunteers…
We’ve got to ASK BIG.
When I first began volunteering at my church for the first time, I was not what I would consider a “consistent” volunteer.
I was seventeen, and I was charged with leading fifth grade girls.
1. Show up.
2. Corral all 30 of the fifth grade girls (yes, I said 30).
3. Attempt to discuss the message they’d just heard.
It wasn’t exactly the most inspiring thing I’d ever done. I did it because I wanted to serve somewhere and the fifth graders were sort of cute . . . sometimes. I didn’t love it — at least, not at first. I showed up most of the time. But I often went home frustrated, wondering if I had made any difference at all in the 90 consecutive minutes I had just spent telling a million 10-year-olds to please chill out.
But a few months later, our church hired a new youth pastor who started to make some changes in our youth ministry. During one of our volunteer meetings, he said something that changed everything for me.
“Small group leaders, you are the youth pastors of your small group.”
And I thought, Wait . . . I’m a youth pastor? Why has no one told me this before? And does he know I’m in eleventh grade?
Then it started to sink in. I wasn’t just another volunteer. I was Lindsay’s leader. Angelina’s leader. Jessica’s leader. I was their pastor, and it was a big deal.
For the first time, I got it. And in the span of just a few sentences, I became a consistent volunteer.
In the time I’ve spent working with kids, volunteers, and church leaders, I’ve thought about this a lot. What was it about that moment that helped me finally get it? How did I move from being an inconsistent volunteer to a leader who just couldn’t get enough?
I think it’s pretty simple.
I was asked to do something big.
And because the job was so big, I knew it mattered.
And I really wanted to do something that mattered.
When we’re really desperate for more volunteers, there is a tendency to start asking for less. We need warm bodies in the room, so we talk about the job of a volunteer as if it’s easy, simple, low-commitment. But there’s a problem with this.
You need people who want to make a difference.
And people who want to make a difference don’t want to do what’s easy or simple. They want to do something that matters.
So, if you want your volunteers to be more engaged, take on more responsibility, and show up more consistently, you might want to start by making bigger asks.
Sure, not everyone will be willing to take on that big responsibility, and that’s okay. You don’t need everyone to be a volunteer. You just need the right people. You need great leaders who are ready for a big challenge because they understand how much their job matters.
So, ask big! There are people in your church just waiting for someone to offer them a challenge worth taking.