No matter the church size, location or denomination, ministry leaders everywhere have one major question: how do I get my members more involved?
Volunteers are the fuel to every church’s fire. If every member viewed church life as a spectator sport, the kingdom wouldn’t grow and the church community wouldn’t flourish. Part of being a ministry leader is mobilizing the flock and drawing more and more volunteers into service until every church member is contributing.
Here are seven ways to encourage service in your church:
1. Raise Your Expectations and Promote Your Vision
Make sure your church members know it’s not just about showing up every Sunday – it’s about personally committing to furthering the church’s ministry. The church needs attendance and giving, but it also needs active service. Emphasizing this creates a culture where service isn’t an “extra” but an expected part of membership.
Also, tell them why their service matters. Share a vision for what your church could accomplish with a larger staff of volunteers. Encourage members to see the bigger picture and how they can personally make it a reality.
2. Share Specific Needs to Encourage Excitement
Don’t say “we need a few hands over in the children’s ministry!” Say “we need a fun, energetic kindergarten Sunday School teacher who likes Play-Doh and music!” Don’t say “we need more greeters!” Say “we need friendly, welcoming faces who can hand out bulletins and help newcomers find a seat!” Get specific with what’s expected in every role – it’s going to make for interested, excited volunteers.
3. Personally Ask the Individual
Announcing volunteer openings from the pulpit or the bulletin is one thing – asking an individual directly is another. As a ministry leader, when you see how a church member’s strengths could help, don’t hesitate and don’t hint around. Be straightforward: “I hear you’re experienced in sound and video editing. Would you like to help edit our promotional Easter video?”
When you challenge your church members to serve, you’re imitating how Jesus recruited His own disciples. A personal invitation is a powerful motivator.
4. Streamline the Sign-Up Process
When your prospective volunteers get the urge to serve, don’t make them do all of the leg work. Have a streamlined sign-up process in place, whether at your church’s welcome desk or even online. Take advantage of volunteer interest right away – don’t make them keep emailing and calling in order to find out what they can do.
5. Establish Structure and Guidance for Your Volunteer Program
Once volunteers are invited and they’ve responded to the call, don’t leave them to figure out what to do on their own. Volunteers need guidance – they need a plan. Whether it’s you, another staff member or an experienced volunteer, make sure every ministry has a clear leadership structure and volunteers have the resources and the direction they need to succeed.
6. Introduce Short-Term Volunteer Opportunities
Sometimes church members don’t know where their skills and interests fit best. Make sure you offer plenty of short-term volunteer opportunities that allow members to explore a number of roles. If you force an immediate six-month commitment on a member who isn’t even sure they fit with a certain ministry, you’re discouraging continued engagement.
7. Offer Training and Leadership Classes
Most importantly, invest time in your volunteer teams. You could offer a leadership class for your volunteers where you and your church staff share what you know about creating a loving, service-focused environment. You can teach them how to resolve conflict and how to recruit other volunteers. Give them the tools they need to succeed in their roles so they feel supported as you all work towards the mission together.
Your church’s vision is important. So are your members. Active service is not only beneficial for your church goals and your community, it’s also beneficial for the individual. By encouraging engagement in your church, you’re encouraging a brand of involved, hands-on faith that keeps each member close to each other and close to God.