Recruiting: Cruise Ship or Sinking Titanic?

By on May 13, 2014

The best approach for finding volunteers is to ask people individually. Consider the individual’s gifts and skills and link them with a specific role you think they’d be great at. Share with them the difference they would make on team in that role. Share the vision for the role and for that ministry area/program.
If giving a notice to a large audience, you can share the vision for your ministry area as if it is a cruise ship: this is what’s happening, this is where we’re going, this is who’s on board. Don’t talk about it as a sinking Titanic: avoid ‘we need’, ‘we’re desperate for’, ‘we’ll have to close’ and begging or pleading.
You want volunteers to choose to join with excitement and not out of guilt.

From an SA church children’s team member:

Due to a number of reasons, the volunteers on the children’s roster at my church had declined from about 8 people to 3 in the space of a month at the end of last term. This left us wondering if Kids Church would continue in Term 4. For a couple of weeks, the need was announced in the notices with no response. Listening to these requests for help,
I was reminded of an article I’d read earlier this year in the Children’s Ministry Magazine
(May/June 2010, Vol 20, No. 2) titled Titanic… or Carnival Cruise Ship.
The article says that “people won’t board a sinking ship” but will “line up to board a Carnival Cruise  ship…to join something that’s a fun adventure, feels like family, and knows where it’s headed.” It lists a number of “signs to know whether you’re sending distress signals – or going full speed ahead” (p48).
Taking this on board and feeling strong promptings from God about a way forward for our
Kids Church, I shared in the church service about what our Kids Church was about: relationships, discipleship (God and me, me and others), and keeping things simple and fun. I also shared about what happens in a session and about the kids (we have a great bunch of kids!).
I shared about the opportunity for people to join in who had key teaching skills and outlined their role (including the need for a police check and Child Safe Environments training), the roster and how they would be supported.
I then shared a possible new way forward for Kids Church that I’d felt God had given. I commented that many people in church have skills and hobbies, such as craft, cooking, sports, music, drama and that they could share these in kids church to help children either engage with or respond to the story. I explained that they would not be responsible for planning the session, they would not be left in charge of the children or have to worry about behaviour management. I outlined how they would be supported, that their role was for
one week only, they needed a police check and they could just plan for their part of the session to share their interests with the kids.
I also expressed that I hoped they would be blessed by meeting with the kids and that through this the kids would also get to know their wider church family!
I emphasized that I knew support was important because our kids are too valuable to send people out who are ill-equipped and that the adults (potential volunteers) are too valuable to just send out with the kids to sink or swim.
After sharing once, 2 key teachers (who actually happen to be school teachers!) and 6 helpers signed up and the next week another 3 helpers signed up. This gave us a full roster for the whole term! And a few interested in helping next year.
Most of these people are not involved in other ministries. A few had been thinking about Kids Church but weren’t sure what was involved, others just hadn’t thought they could do it. A few others I’d never met before, so I’ve talked with my church leaders to ensure they are appropriate people for Kids Church.
I admit that this has given me more work to do in the short-term answering all of their questions and reassuring them of how we’ll make things work. But last Sunday, I stayed in church, while for the first time a new teacher and helper ministered with the kids. I caught up with them afterwards, and the new helper who had shared her scrapbooking crafts asked me when she could join in again! Next week, we’re looking forward to one of our “grandmothers” helping the kids to bake morning tea for the church and the week
after we’re telling the story using musical instruments with a mum and her teenage son. I’m not sure how it’s all going to work but it’s definitely a fun, church-family adventure!

[From UCA’s “What’s Up” Newsletter 2013/1 and 2010/10-11 with thanks]