Ministry fairs are popular church volunteer recruitment events. Each ministry (such as Sunday school, food pantry, the garden club, etc.) prepares and mans a table. People stroll around the room, viewing the volunteer opportunities, and signing up if interested.
Effective ministry fairs are like a party – a place where people gather, eat, talk and hopefully see or do something fun. Some tips:
- Encourage people to come, linger and enjoy themselves:
- Create a fun and festive atmosphere with decorations, music, a theme or whatever your most creative people think up.
- Snacks and beverage, of course.
- An activity for kids is a plus.
- It’s best to locate the fair where people will see it as they enter and leave church. If it must be elsewhere in the building, creative signage will encourage them to make the trek. An outdoor ministry fair can work, with backup plans for uncooperative weather. If you have a mid-size lobby, another option is having several smaller ministry fairs, perhaps quarterly, one for each ministry area: children and youth; worship-related ministries, etc.
- Bring ministry leaders on board with advance notice and assistance. Most of these tireless leaders are not gifted in marketing, so help them with these crucial needs:
- Engaging table displays. Our Nursery volunteers piled their table with Nursery toys; to recruit maintenance volunteers, someone brought in a shop vac; some ministries play a video; the quilters displayed their quilts. Interesting displays encourage people to stop and talk.
- Good conversationalists at the tables. The goal of a ministry fair is engaging people in conversation. The goal is not to twist arms or badger people into serving. Through honest, friendly conversation, we can discover their interests, skills and availability, which helps them find the place God has in mind for them to serve, whether it’s in ‘my’ ministry or another one.
- Follow-up is crucial. Will it be done by the mission fair team or by individual ministries? Hold people accountable for follow-up. When people sign up to express interest, and the response is half-hearted or nonexistent, it’s a clear message that the church really is not interested in their volunteering.
- Analyze the results. How many people signed up? How many of them actually began serving within the next month or two, and were still serving at six months? How many of them were people new to serving at your church vs. people already serving elsewhere? What types of ministries received the most response and what did they have in common?
At a good ministry fair, you’ll not only recruit volunteers. You’ll learn a lot about your people, the people God has brought to your church to accomplish his mission.
See also stories about ministry fairs at Grace in Menominee Falls, WI: and Immanuel in Batavia, Illinois.
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