Recruiting 101: Want Volunteers? Invite Them

Recruitment is invitation. When you recruit, you invite someone to consider an opportunity to serve. Remembering this truth makes the process easier, more pleasant and more effective.

Party invitations are attractive and are sent well in advance to a select group of people. The same is true with recruiting. We start early and we extend a thoughtful, personalized invitation.

Who is on our invitation list? Don’t aim for friends who owe you a favor, or those who can’t say no. Think of people who’ve been gifted by God with the necessary skills; people who might enjoy this task. A great way to build your invitation list is to also ask 2-3 other people to suggest people they know who would be a good fit for the position. It pays to look outside the usual group of volunteers; many people never volunteer because they were never asked.

Yes, do extend a blanket invitation by an announcement in the church bulletin or newsletter. But don’t hold your breath. It occasionally works, but not often.

The best invitations are personal. Contact people one at a time. Explain the need, and share the job description. Tell why you’re inviting them. “Adrian said you have a heart for children;” “Ed told me you’ve led a similar project at work.” “I saw how well you organized the spaghetti dinner.” Ask them to think and pray about it and set a time to get back to them.

If they say no, refrain from reverting to the “Please help! I’m desperate!” routine. Listen to their reasons. Perhaps the job can be adjusted. Or perhaps there’s something else they are willing and able to do in the church. And we have other people on our invitation list to talk to.

Personal invitations take time. Be prepared to invest time and effort into recruiting. You may need to seek more names. You may need to adjust your expectations or redesign the opportunity.

From beginning to end, surround recruitment in prayer. You’re seeking one of God’s people to do God’s work in His body, the church. It’s not about you and your need. And relax. If God wants a particular task done in your church, he will have given someone there both the ability and the availability for it.


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