IN THE CLASSIC NOVEL, "The Old Man And The Sea," Ernest Hemingway cast a great opening line, reeling in an entire generation. But eighty-four days without catching a fish?
What kind of bait was the old guy using anyway?
This reminds me of a fishing trip with a friend about ten years ago. It was a cool night that threatened to be downright cold. The moon was so bright; there was no need for any other light. The surface of the water was calm and serene much like our lighthearted stories of family, jobs and even past fishing stories. Everything was perfect except the fish weren't biting. Unexpectedly, the quiet lake exploded to life. Fireworks began loudly lighting up the night sky with no regard for our strategy or angling prowess it was the 4th of July after all.
Abandoning all hope of catching anything but a cold, I reached for my sandwich as my friend playfully cast the line of his daughter's Superman rod and reel only a few feet out into the dark water. Seconds later he caught the biggest fish I had ever seen on that lake. He cast again. Another bite. Another fish. This process repeated for at least an hour.
That silly Superman pole yielded at least 15 monster fish that night. I love telling that story. Hey, it's not Hemmingway. But it's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Maybe you don't like to fish it doesn’t really matter. You see, according to God you are a fisherman or, a fisher of men to be exact.
And as a ministry leader you are forever casting your nets looking for those who would come alongside you in ministry just like Jesus did. But, just like the old man in Hemmingway's story (not to mention Andrew, Peter, James and John), you've gone a long time without catching a fish.
You need volunteers and you need them now.
There are many methods and tactics to recruiting committed volunteers. However, for this trip we'll focus on just one bit of bait in your tackle box storytelling.
Within volunteer recruiting and retention, the ability to tell stories is fundamental to the successful growth of your team. Storytelling swings wide the gates of people's willingness to listen to whatever you have to say at least for a period of time. And it's in this time period that you can effectively cast the vision your ministry.
Let's reason together.
Vision casting through storytelling is the basis for the success of concepts like GoFund- Me.com and Kickstarter.com. It's why Compassion International and World Vision have been so successful for so long.
Each of these organizations has made storytelling their central campaign focus with no apologies!
They each understand the power that a well-told story can wield. They know that if they can connect with their target audience on a personal and even emotional level people will offer up large amounts of time and money to support a worthwhile cause. Let's get back to you and your cause.
Do you think people will consider it worthwhile to volunteer for something they don't understand? No. Do you think people will bite at a bulletin entry that simply says, childcare workers needed? Not so much. How ATTRACTIVE is it for someone to stand on a stage and beg people to give their time or money to an effort just because there is some kind of vague need? Not very attractive at all. Gone are the days that people will volunteer simply because they see a sign up list posted on wall. Most people believe they are too busy to simply sign themselves up for another obligation that's the furthest thing from their minds! However, if you convey a story that hits them close to their heart now that's a fish of a different color my friend.
At this point they are not just volunteering. They are making a difference within something that MATTERS to them.
Here are 6 bits of storytelling tackle that just might hook the big one:
1. Use video to SHOW (don't just tell) the vision for the future of your ministry.
2. Ask your pastor to creatively weave your specific volunteer need into the story of his sermon. (This takes tact and a gentle touch!)
3. Spotlight one of your team members. Show their story and how your ministry has greatly impacted their life. (Celebrate a testimony)
4. Seek out how YOUR MINISTRY led to true salvation experiences. Celebrate with the angels through stories!
5. Use Facebook, Twitter and other social media to share stories and other bitesized attention getters to draw potential volunteers to YOUR VISION.
6. Tell a vision-based story of celebration at every team meeting or function. Remember, the greatest ministry recruiter of all time used parables (stories) to draw the attention of those he wanted to serve alongside. He never begged anyone to join him. Yet, people wanted to be a part of something special.
You may not be able to tell a story like Hemmingway. But you don't have to. God has placed in you the greatest story that can ever be told. Now, all you need to do is cast your nets.