6 Mistakes People Make When Trying to Build a Volunteer Team

The greatest need of every ministry is volunteers.  They make ministry happen and without them a ministry can never accomplish its mission.

There are some strategic things you can do to build a volunteer team.  There are also some things you shouldn't do.  Here are six of them.  How do I know?  I've made all 6 of these mistakes and I want to help you avoid doing the same.

Mistake #1 - Depending on ads in the church bulletin.  Ads in the church bulletin don't normally work.  Don't expect it to bring in volunteers.  If anything, it tends to "advertise" to people that your ministry is not doing well and you are desperate for volunteers.  Which leads to the next point... 

Mistake #2 -  Showing how desperate you are.  People are drawn to vision...not desperation.  When you use words like "please" or "help" or "need," it can actually have the opposite effect and push people away from your ministry.  When people see desperation, it causes them to think, "If it is so great to serve in that ministry, then why are they having to beg people to join?"  You may be desperate for volunteers...and we all are at times...but don't show it.  Invite with vision rather than desperation.

Mistake #3 - Asking the Pastor to beg for volunteers during the announcements.  I remember years ago, I was two weeks from VBS starting and I still needed 20 volunteers.  I asked the Pastor if he would make an appeal for me at the end of the service.  He graciously agreed to do so...even though I shouldn't have put him in that position.  He told the congregation that I would be up front at the close of the service and people could come to me if they would like to volunteer for VBS.  I waited anxiously at the end of the service, clipboard in hand, just knowing I would be flooded with a long line of people ready to sign up to serve.  The final prayer was said...and no one came to me.  In fact, they all ran from me.  I learned that day that you don't build a volunteer team with pulpit announcements. 

Mistake #4 - Only trying to enlist volunteers a few times a year.  Don't limit your volunteer enlistment to a few times a year.  Building a volunteer team must be done every single week, 52 weeks a year. 

Mistake #5 - Not getting outside of your ministry area.  Your next volunteer is not going to be found in your ministry area.  If you are so busy "doing" the ministry that you can't find time to get outside of your ministry area and invite people to join the ministry, you will be severely limited.  There are some great places in your church to find new volunteers.  And guess what?  They are all outside of your ministry area.

Mistake #6 -  Not connecting with the student ministry leader.  Students (teenagers) are great volunteers.  They can bring energy, life and excitement to the ministry.  Especially in chidren's ministry since kids look up to them.  What's the key to getting them involved in serving?  Their student ministry leader.  If you're going to enlist students to serve in your ministry, then you must get the student ministry leader on board.  In most cases, he or she is feeling the urgency to build up the student ministry.  The student pastor could see taking students to serve outside of student ministry as a hindrance to that goal.  Before going after students to serve, connect with the student ministry leader and help he / she see the benefits of students serving.  Help them see it's not about what you want from the students.  It's about what you want for the students.  Serving activates students' faith and stats show that students who serve are much more likely to continue following Jesus after graduation.

You can get a clear, effective strategy for building great volunteer teams in my new book The Secret Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams.  This is a proven formula that I used to build a team of over 2,600 volunteers.  You can get it here.