Our Primary Way of Recruiting Volunteers

My wife Michelle and I on a getaway together, with no guide.

My wife Michelle and I on a getaway together, with no guide.

When I went on my honeymoon to Cancun Mexico, I had an idea that my wife found disturbing. It wouldn't be the last time...

We had journeyed 3 and half hours by jeep toward the Guatemalan border to Chichen Itza: an impressive ruined city that was covered by jungle until the early 20th century. It was impactful in so many ways, least of which was the modern day Mayans surrounding the area who refused to speak Spanish and carried guns in defiance of the Mexican government. Because I don't like group tours and canned presentations, I did the unthinkable to my wife: I paid a guy with automatic weapons to take us where we wanted to go and tell us about his people's history among these ruins.

I wanted to hear from someone who lived "on the ground" culturally, who had greater proximity to the environment I was exploring.
Michelle and I climbed this pyramid at Chichen Itza and came close to rolling down it...

Michelle and I climbed this pyramid at Chichen Itza and came close to rolling down it...

This young man did not disappoint. He knew things about this ancient city that I could have never dreamed of: from what kind of anesthetic the ancient's used to perform brain surgery on people, to how many times sound would echo when we clapped due to the ingenious and mysterious engineering capabilities of the Mayans. He even showed me a carving of a fruit tree, 2 naked people and a serpent that explained "how it all went wrong after the world was created", carved over a thousand years before the first missionary from Europe ever arrived. With or without his weapons, I don't think we could have had a better tour. 

I also think this is how every person at our church's First Step Experience feels.

Jared Dunn, who served as our Executive Director of Ministries at the time, suggested a new strategy that would become our primary way of recruiting volunteers at our church. We call it "The All Access Tour". On the 5th week of our First Step Experience (our 7 week discipleship/membership course), we take anywhere from 60 to 110 people (in groups of 10-15) on a behind the scenes tour, during the worship service, where they can see...

A group on the All Access Tour stopping at Kidside

A group on the All Access Tour stopping at Kidside

  • Our Kidside and Surge (Jr. high) volunteers enjoying children and teens.
  • Our facility and parking lot team doing their thing
  • Our Compassion Cafe volunteers making lattes.
  • Our worship team/tech Green Room & the back side of our auditorium's LED wall in action.

At each stop in the tour, a staff or volunteer who serves on the team they are observing comes out and shares why serving in that ministry is the most exciting and fulfilling experience for them. Some Q & A takes place, and then off to the next stop. 

When all the groups regather at the end of the tour, they are invited to fill out an All Access Tour Card and check a box to pick from one of these ministries to begin their journey of serving at our church. Under the leadership of our winsome Volunteer Director Julie Liem, they are told to read and return an email on that will be sent to them on Wednesday of that week with more information on the ministry they chose along with a volunteer job description(s). When they respond with questions or acknowledgment of that information, they will then hear from a staff person to be invited to the first step in their on-boarding process for that ministry (i.e.an interview, a team meeting, a training session, etc.). 

Why does this work better then announcing a need or opportunity to serve from the stage during services?

3 Reasons:

1. We are fishing in the right pond. All those on the tour are people in our 7 week First Step Experience (FSX) course who know, love and understand our church's vision, values, and mission and have a higher level of commitment and interest then other guests at our church AND...most of them have been coming to our church 8 weeks or less!

2.  Everybody goes on the tour. This is week 5 of FSX, they all know its coming, and they are looking forward to seeing all the facets of the church from the back end. The entire room stands up and leaves in groups at the same time so nobody even had to sign up.

3.  The right people are doing the talking. Remember my tour guide at Chichen Itza? I got one in every ministry to explain what its like to serve there and what goes on (minus the guns) because...

New people to your church want to hear from someone who lives "on the ground" culturally in each ministry, people who have greater proximity to the environment they are exploring.

At church or at Chichen Itza, you would too if you were in their shoes. That's why something like an "All Access Tour" is currently our best way for guiding new people in our church upward in service, toward becoming fully assimilated members of our spiritual family. 

  • What is currently your primary way of recruiting volunteers? What words would you use to describe the results?
  • How often do you recruit volunteers?
  • What pond do you fish for volunteers in?
  • When you recruit volunteers at your church, who does the talking?