A Familiar Cry: "I Need More Volunteers!"

A Familiar Cry: "I Need More Volunteers!"

People in your church are probably used to seeing things go well each weeklights come on, microphones work, cameras capture video. So they may just assume you have the help you need...

Do you find yourself saying that more and more each week as Sunday approaches?

Do you avoid looking at Planning Center, because you know it will tell you that there's still "1 Person Needed" in more than one position this weekend?

Do you daydream, thinking about the day when you'll have a volunteer roster full to the point of overflowing?

The good news is that you CAN get to the point of having a full volunteer team. The other good piece of news is that it doesn't come easy and it won't happen overnight.

Rushing into adding new volunteers too quickly and without a plan can lead to missed opportunities and chaos…

Wait What?

That doesn't sound like good news, but I assure you it is. Here's why: Building a volunteer team takes time, determination, and a whole lot of communication, but the payoff for all that work can be extraordinary.

Rushing into adding new volunteers too quickly and without a plan can lead to missed opportunities and chaos, and I know this because it's a mistake that I used to make all the time.

So here are some simple ways that I've found to recruit for and grow a volunteer media or production team that can scale to a church of any size.

Advertise.

When I first became frustrated at the small size of our volunteer team, I wondered why people weren't just flocking to the booth on Sundays to sign up. After all, what we do in the production world is not only vital to our services, it's also fun!

People in your church are probably used to seeing things go well each weeklights come on, microphones work, cameras capture video. So they may just assume you have the help you need, and that you're only looking for people who come with previous experience.

Each church has its own flavor and style of getting information to the congregation, and it's up to you to determine if you've utilized those methods to the their fullest. Whether it's a bulletin, a mailed newsletter, a weekly email blast, a hallway slide loop, or a video announcement, find a way to present the need for volunteers to your congregation.

Let them know upfront what your expectations are. Is previous experience necessary? Do you offer training? What is the time commitment? How do I sign up?

Don't just rely on passive advertising, though, as it's unrealistic to expect people to come to us; we need to also go to them. Getting out of the comfort of the booth or production room and talking to the people who make up your congregation is a great way to find volunteers.

If you know someone sociable on the greeter team, ask them who they know that might be interested in production. The student ministry staff might have a good pulse on which middle school or high school students might have experience from helping with production at school.

And whenever I see someone peeking in the booth at the audio or lighting consoles, I immediately invite them to come closer and ask me any questions. Allowing them to actually put their hands on the equipment for a minute or two after a service can give them a great taste of what they might be able to do if they get some training and join the team.

Our church has a monthly membership class, and we ask each new member to list out the areas they served in at their previous church. If your church has a similar class, see if you can find a way to use it to your advantage, because it can be like a built-in, monthly recruitment tool.

The more you can clearly let people know about your team and how they can be involved, the more likely they are to take the first step in expressing their interest.

Be Ready to Collect Information.

Now that you've let people know of the need, you need to be ready for when they begin coming to you!

Be sure that you have a way of collecting information when people show up at your tech booth or production room. I've found that a simple card with space for contact info and check boxes for areas of interest works the best.

Make these cards (or something similar) available at each of your main production areas, and be sure your volunteers know both how to use them to collect information from people who stop by expressing an interest, but also who to deliver that info to once the card is filled out.

Whether you receive a card with someone's contact info, an email, or voicemail from a prospect for your team, make sure you reply to them quickly. It may have been intimidating for them to make that first contact, and they may not make another contact if they don't hear from you and don't know you're serious.

We've created a series of email templates that are easy to customize, based on details about each person who expresses interest in the team, and the basics of each are the same: We acknowledge their interest in our team, we let them know the basics of what our team does and that we're comprised of people with different levels of experience, we attach a list of detailed descriptions of each position on the team, and we invite them to meet a member of our staff over coffee to get to know each other better and talk about next steps. Most of all, we make it clear that we want to help them discover their place of service at our church.

After receiving this email, they may quickly realize that media and production is not where they're best suited, and that's OK. Be willing to accept that some people will respond with a "no" or a "not now," after learning the expectations and basics associated with being part of the team.

If you don't already have a document that lists the current volunteer roles on your team, create one that lists the basics of what each position is responsible for, and what the time commitment is for that position each Sunday.

Follow Up. Then Follow Up Again!

Hopefully you'll soon find yourself at a point where you have a number of people who have expressed interest in your team, and now you have to juggle keeping track of what step in the onboarding process they've completed. I used to be terrible with this: I'd talk to someone on a Sunday and promise to send them information the next day, and then run into them the following Sunday, embarrassed that I hadn't yet contacted them. After too many mistakes in that department, I finally devised my secret weapon: a massive, 21-column behemoth of a spreadsheet that helps me capture all the information to help me know where a new volunteer is within the training process.

Aside from their name and contact info, the spreadsheet helps me keep track of when they first made contact, when I first contacted them, when I met with them in person, what training they've gone through and who trained them, when I added them into our Planning Center database, and what next step I must take to move them along in the process.

This spreadsheet is so wide that it doesn't even come close to fitting on my computer monitor, but it is the single most important tool I have to be sure nobody falls through the cracks. A few instances of bad or non-existent communication, and you will not only risk losing their trust in you as a competent team leader, but you also risk their not being given a chance to serve in the very part of the church that they might best thrive in.

We build in a lot of steps into our process so that new volunteers understand how intentional we are about getting them plugged into the best position that suits their strengths and giftings. We schedule an in-person meeting over coffee to talk about their life, family, job, and production experience. The goal is to get to know them and what makes them who they are. During this meeting we'll do a tour of our various production spaces where they can see equipment up close and see the position descriptions from paper come to life.

After that meeting, we'll schedule a time that they can come on a Sunday to shadow one of our current volunteers, followed by one-on-one training on yet another day.

All of the sudden, this is becoming a lot of work! Emailing, phone calls, scheduling, training  It's worth the reminder that YOU don't need to do all of this, especially when it comes to training.

Some of the top members of your team might not only have the margin to train new volunteers, both during the week and "on the job" on Sunday, but they might also be better at it than you, which is perfectly OK! Allowing your best volunteers to do training will not only give them a better sense of belonging on the team, but also free you up to lead the team and to continue bringing in more volunteers.

In conclusion

Remember that volunteer recruitment isn't easy. It takes an enormous amount of time, determination, and communication.

The time you spend doing things the right way up front, though, will be worth the feeling you get when you have a full roster full of volunteers.

So stick with itplan, be diligent, and have patience. And always have a spreadsheet!

 

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