Talked to a new member lately? New members make great volunteers. They’re excited about their new church. They want to get to know others, and they recognize serving as a great way to build relationships. Most are open to getting involved and making a contribution. Joining a new church is a transition, and during transitions, people are more likely to try something new.
But before going further, let’s do an attitude check. We’re not talking about how to persuade or sell new members on filling open volunteer positions. New members, like all parts of the body of Christ (I Cor. 12), should be encouraged to serve in places that match their gifts and their calling, in balance with their serving at home and on the job. I may be in great need of Sunday school teachers, but when the new member says, “I’m not a teacher, but I’d love to help with data entry,” I need to help them investigate that desire, while I also trust God and continue my search for teachers.
Some how-to’s on inviting new members to serve:
- If you have a new member class, spend some time on the topic of serving, through teaching (I Cor. 12 and Eph. 2:10 are great topics) and/or specifics on ways to serve at your church.
- Ask new members to complete a gift inventory (here’s a sample). It’s helpful not only for the church database, but also as preparation for a personal conversation.
- Have a trained staff member or volunteer meet with each individual or a couple. It’s a great way for church and new member to get to know each other. I like to ask about what brought them to our church; it tells me a lot about their spiritual journey. I also about what they do at work, about their educational background and even their hobbies; these tell me a lot about their skills and interests. These next two questions are most important and so is the order in which they are asked. “How can we serve you?” comes before “How would you like to get involved?”
- After the conversation, follow-up is crucial. When they express interest in a certain volunteering opportunity, it’s okay to give them the name and contact info of the coordinator. But better is to have the coordinator contact them. Most important is following up later to make sure contact was made.
Each new member is a gift from God to your church. Don’t leave those gifts unopened! Start right away to get to know them, and help them figure out and do what God is calling them to do.
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