Orange ’11 Breakout: How to Recruit Volunteers

This session was led by Sue Miller.  She led PromiseLand at Willow Creek for 17 years and has been at Orange since 2005.

Here are my notes on the session:

We can’t recruit anyone unless we really believe it will make a difference in the life of the volunteer – not just the child, but it will make a difference in the their life.

What inspires volunteers to step up and serve?  Your Passion

Every volunteer wants something significant to do

  • Customize the vision for different target audiences (there are big roles, medium roles and small roles)
  • High quality people respond best to a personal ask from a leader
  • Everyone is busy – we are calling them to do a significant task (whether it is big or small it is significant)

Every volunteer wants to feel valued

  • Work on your job descriptions before you get together with the potential volunteer (you will be better off with 6 or so small job descriptions than 1-2 long descriptions)
  • Honor the process.  If they call you with questions or would like to serve, call them back
  • Seek to match up their gifts.  Try to understand what they are really good at.  If they do not know, help them discover it.  When we give them jobs that use their strengths (not our needs) they are motivated to stay.
  • Appreciate each volunteer.  Make sure each and every one of them feel like you appreciate what they are doing.

Every volunteer wants to be connected

  • Difference between a renter and an owner is the community.  This can’t be a “task force”.  It has to be a family environment.  A “task force” mentality is easy to stop doing.  Sue had each volunteer come 15 minutes early so they can connect with each other.  There was a fight (and took months) as the volunteers didn’t want to do it.  “What is the best thing that happened to you this week?” Then after that they answered, “What is your most concern you have this week?”  That is all they did in those 15 minutes.  It was hard to start but it was very beneficial in the long run.
  • People will easily leave a task, but few will leave a family.

Every volunteer wants to make a difference

  • Don’t forget the power of the volunteer story.  They love to tell their story and for new recruits it is great to hear a story from another volunteer who has been around.
  • Figure out how to celebrate your volunteers.  They deserve to be recognized (1 year celebration “You made it!”)
  • Challenge and growth matter!  Volunteers don’t want to do the same thing over and over again, unless they want to.  Challenge them to see if they ever want to do something different.


Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor as well as Social Media Director at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, periscopes and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at and on iTunes (search YMSidekick).

One thought on “Orange ’11 Breakout: How to Recruit Volunteers

  • April 27, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Thank you Thank you Thank you!!! I couldn't be at Orange this year but reading your posts is just like being there! I can't wait to pour over them after the webcast of the opening session tonight! God Bless!


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