Who do you ask to help?

Every 7 days, our church needs over 70 different people to volunteer to serve, in everything from teaching Sunday school to stacking chairs to setting out the coffee to praying with people after the services.  Finding “enough” volunteers is a perpetual problem in churches. While it’s great to have people offer to help, I would estimate that over half of the roles need to be filled through staff-initiated asks.

How do you know who to ask?

1. The one who’ll say “yes” -Having been on both sides of these calls, it’s no fun for anyone.  I tell myself that I’m giving people an opportunity to serve, and that it shouldn’t be awkward.  It still is. Weak excuses, half-truths, and awkward pauses… and that’s just my side of it.  I usually want to just get it over with as soon as possible. But, if you only use this criteria, here are the negative consequences: cliquish (only the staff person’s friends serve), homogeneous (only people like the staff person serve), and closed-minded (only people who have done it before serve).

2. Someone different – I want to find as much diversity as I can (age, gender, race, etc), especially in positions of influence in a worship service. If I know I already have five white guys in their thirty’s on the platform, the last thing I want is another white guy in his thirties to read Scripture or greet at the door.  Finding “different” requires intentionality, and is often at odds with speed (criteria #1), since it’s easier to find “someone like you” who’ll say yes.

How do you do this? If you’re in a multiple-staff church, find a staff person unlike you to give you some referrals.  Just don’t ask him/her to find you your volunteers.

3. Someone outside – If involvement breeds commitment, then I want to find outsiders to fill roles as much as possible. But, this will again be at odds with #1.

How do you do this? Figure out who the new people are, whether in a new members event, through attendance cards, or just tracking them down on the patio, and rope them in early.  They’ll get in their routine after a few months, and getting them to break it in two years (you know, when you know them), won’t happen.

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