My wife is perhaps the world’s foremost expert in getting church people to volunteer. She heads our cradle roll program — class for kids from old-enough-to-sit-up to two years. And she needs a lot of people to hold crying babies, wash toys, teach the lesson, etc. She’s booked one-year in advance for both Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.
And so … the church was having trouble filling slots for the nursery, and had zero results despite announcements, sign up sheets, and a requirement that parents of children in the children’s minister must volunteer in the ministry. And so my wife has now booked all the volunteers needed through April 2011. Really.
So I asked her how she did this. I mean, is does she have other miraculous powers? Can she prophesy? You see, if figure many churches would prefer the gift of getting volunteers to the gift of prophecy.
Here’s what she said —
1. Ask people in person. Not by email, sign up sheets, or telephone. In person.
2. Have relationships with lots of people. By virtue of teaching cradle roll for years — on both Sundays and Wednesday nights — she knows every parent in church. She’s held, fed, changed, comforted, and taught every child born in the last several years.
3. Invite people to serve with their friends or other people they’d enjoy serving with.
4. Ask them well in advance — so far in advance they are without excuse (that is, so that they can plan their schedule around their volunteering, rather than the other way around). Invite someone to teach in February 2011 today, and they’re likely to have an open calendar.
5. Know the positives of the job. It’s not drudgery that must be endured so church can go on. It’s an opportunity to serve Jesus with friends while holding the cutest babies.
6. Don’t ask people to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.