Building Teams that Serve

By Bryan Bailey

Every church seems to have the same problem: No matter what size the church, the needs always feel as though they outweigh the resources. People and money – we never have enough. Yet, somehow, we still have to find a way to make church happen every single week! And by the way, expectations will not be adjusted to compensate for the lack of proper staffing, therefore, we all have to utilize unpaid team members. So how do we navigate these very difficult and frustrating circumstances?

There is a depth to this issue that we need to delve into, and it starts with asking a few questions:

  • Does each ministry have an identity (mission statement, core values)?
  • How does each team operate?
  • How are we keeping track of prospects?
  • What would I do if 25 people came to me and said they would like to help?

Your Mission Statement

Now, I am going to make an assumption that your church has a mission and/or vision statement. If this isn’t true, then consider how that affects the way we communicate to our people and how an overarching mission statement clarifies the focus of all the ministries within the church. It is then vital to identify the mission of each ministry within the context of the church’s mission statement. An effective mission statement should describe what the ministry does, how it does it, and why it does it (Ward, 2020).

This statement should not be difficult to develop, but it is very important in expressing the relevance of the ministry to the members of the church. The “why” portion of the statement should be most intriguing for potential volunteers. An example of such a mission statement comes from the ministry I am responsible for:

The Prestonwood Media Team members are conduits of God’s Word, proclaiming the Gospel around the world as we enhance ministry and worship environments with excellent audio, video and lighting.

This statement explains what, how and why, and it fits nicely under the overarching mission statement of Prestonwood Baptist Church (“Our mission at Prestonwood Baptist Church is to glorify God by introducing Jesus Christ as Lord to as many people as possible and to develop them in Christian living using the most effective means to impact the world, making an eternal difference in this generation”). Anyone looking to join the Media Team understands how this particular ministry fits within the mission of the church.

Your Core Values

In addition to the mission statement, core values play a vital role in defining how the ministry will operate. For businesses, “core values are the highest values that guide a firm’s actions, unite its employees, and define its brand” (Pape, 2017). The same could be said for church ministries.

These core values allow for clear, up-front communication to anyone wanting to be involved in the ministry, and they also provide a guide for decision-making within the ministry. Examples of core values in a media ministry could be:

  • Service: Media Team members strive to serve God through volunteering as part of their offering, as well as serving each other.
  • Worship: Media Team members strive to enhance the worship experience while they are also worshipping.
  • Humility: Media Team members always maintain an attitude of humility through service.
  • Growth: Media Team members always strive for spiritual growth, as well as growth in technical skills.
  • Excellence: While perfection is unattainable, Media Team members always strive for excellence in all tasks.

Mission statements and core values provide clarity and accountability within the ministry, and it is important to remember that not everyone thinks about the ministry as much as the person who is responsible for it. The other team members and church members need to be constantly reminded of the importance and value of the work done through that ministry.

We all know that vision has a tendency to leak out. Therefore, one of the most important jobs of the leader is to continually fill the vision buckets of those he is responsible to lead.

Your Situation

After the foundation of a mission and core values have been laid for each ministry, it is important to step back and take stock of your particular situation as it pertains to the needs of your church. I would get key staff together and make a chart or list of the following items:

  • How many individual ministries do we currently have, and what are they? This includes First Impressions, Media, Children’s, Students, Baptism, Decision Counselors, etc.
  • What are areas that these current ministries do not address?
  • Existing paid staff and their positions
  • Existing volunteer team members

It won’t take long to see how my resources match up with my needs. From here, I can use this information to collaborate with staff and key leaders in the church to create an infrastructure to support the various needs of our weekend operations.

Now, no matter what size the church, one question permeates every single ministry: How do we recruit more volunteers?It sounds so simple. Tell the congregation there’s a need, and people will readily stand up and come to the rescue. Right? Sure…

Most of us probably know various ways to get the word out to the congregation, but let’s list some here in case something new gets your attention.

Videos

Just like every other ministry in the church, it’s easy to think that video is the best answer to getting people’s attention. However, for some ministries, it certainly makes a lot of sense! These videos can play in the service at the announcements time, on social media, or in Sunday school classes, and they are a great way to show off what awaits potential volunteers.

Ads

It’s always beneficial to promote your ministry in the bulletin or weekly mailer. In addition, get a slide placed in the looping announcements that go on the screen. You create those things anyway, so go ahead and use your power to help your cause!

Pulpit Announcements

At many churches, people simply do not listen to an announcement unless it comes from the pulpit, and many times only if it comes from the pastor’s mouth. Find the right weekend to get your need on the pastor’s list, and you’ll be amazed at the response!

Open House/Ministry Fair

Consider hosting an open house a couple of times a year and provide tours of ministry areas immediately after services. This is great for Media Ministries, or other areas with a defined space. Ministry Fairs are very effective with booths set up before/after each service with representatives from each ministry there to talk to prospects. Make a big deal of it by advertising three or four weeks ahead of time, then have your current volunteers available to talk to folks.

Sunday School/Small Groups

One of my favorite recruiting grounds is the small-group setting. These members are already bought into the church and committed (to some degree) to meet together as a group, so encourage them to take it to the next level and be willing to serve once or twice a month. Better yet, send your volunteers who are a part of that class but never get to go – they can personally plead for assistance so they can come back to class more often!

Volunteers as Advertising

In addition to sending your volunteers into the Sunday school rooms, go ahead and promote your brand through those people! Create T-shirts, jackets and lanyards, all with a specific branding for those ministries. Not only will it show the congregation you’re serious about the work being done in those areas, it is a huge morale-booster for the team members!

And don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and get super creative. I once did a recruitment announcement for Media where we interrupted the service and took over the announcements via a camera from the control room. It got people’s attention, and we acquired quite a few new folks from that one Sunday.

Whatever your tactic, the goal is to educate the congregation that a need exists, and they can help fill that need.

Your System

Now, I’ll ask that really scary question one more time: If 25 people came to you today and said they want to help in one or more of your areas, what would you do? I believe there are two keys to this. First, have a system in place for keeping up with new recruits. Every church should have a people-management system to deal with this. There are many options available, but the up-and-coming program that many churches are turning to is Planning Center Online. Most churches in the country use this for planning events and services, but PCO has expanded into resource management and people management, among other things. Check it out. Tools such as this help keep people from slipping through the cracks, and it shows them you really care.

Your Training Program

Second, have a training program ready to go so that these new folks have a plan for learning their newfound endeavor. You need a way of reliably teaching each position in order to maintain consistency and excellence, as well as to ensure the volunteers learn properly so they are comfortable to execute what you are asking them to do. This training program can be simple or robust, but it must be well thought out. But that’s another article….

So, while volunteer recruitment tactics will vary from church to church, it may not be quite the mystery we make it out to be. I believe successful volunteer recruitment begins with answering questions that define the heart of our ministry. Everything else simply builds upon that foundation.

Bryan Bailey serves as the Director of Media at Prestonwood Baptist Church. Connect with him on Twitter: @worshipmediaman.

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