“I Hate Recruiting” Contest

Posted on: 09/4/12 12:18 PM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s time for me to give away a few copies of my new book about recruiting & keeping volunteers! (WINNERS POSTED AT BOTTOM OF POST)

If you’re involved in church leadership, then you know the power of volunteers. You also are familiar with the daunting task of recruiting volunteers to hang out with kids, to teach Sunday School… to clean up after the junior high banana split night!

We’d all probably love more volunteers… but how do you ask? Besides, what if they say “no.”

I hate rejection.

Sadly, that fear of recruiting (and rejection) often keeps us from asking people to become involved in our ministries.

So let’s have a quick contest. You don’t have come up with a creative idea, you don’t have come up with the cure to the fear of recruiting… you just have to tell us the truth. It’s that simple. Since the majority of you already have at least one volunteer, simply tell us how you got that volunteer. (e.g. I just walked up and asked them if they’d like to drive to camp. They had so much fun, I invited them to help the next Wednesday night… and they got hooked!)

Anyone who uses the comment feature of this blog to do this will be automatically entered into the “I Hate Recruiting” Contest. I’ll randomly pick 3 winners this Friday and send those three people an autographed copy of the brand new “Second Edition” of my book, The New Breed.

Check back to this blog post on Friday afternoon for the winner. I’ll also Tweet the winner when it’s posted.

So many good comments! Thank you all. Thanks to you, this post is now a great little collection of “recruiting ideas” for those of us who hate recruiting! As for the contest, I randomly selected the three winners today and emailed them as promised. The three winners were:

April Teves
Dave Falcone
Marc at Pine Hills Church


For the rest of you, right now you can get a copy for 20% off
AND signed by both authors!

52 Replies to ““I Hate Recruiting” Contest”

  1. I had been praying about one of my current sponsors for a couple months, with the understanding that a few years back she had a bad experience and stepped away. The issue had been long resolved, but she never rejoined up. We were at a church seminar and I felt the need to be bold at that point, so I told her ‘I would like you to be praying and thinking about joining our team again.’ A year and a half later she and her husband are a powerhouse with our Jr High and young High School kids!

  2. Jon McKee is to water sports what Jon McKee is to ministry training. I don’t know how you’ll take that.

      1. I was thinking that both are a little corny-a. I’m so sorry. remove me from the drawing. I’m better than that.

  3. My best recruiting has happened, not by asking someone to come fill a pre-defined role in our ministry, but by seeing them doing what they already love to do, and imagining how it could be used in our ministry. Our ministry’s go-to photographer and our go-to retreat cook were both recruited because I learned that those were things they loved to do.

  4. The most recent volunteer I recruited was a young guy, new to the area, who wanted to get more involved in the church. I offered to take him out to lunch and share a little about our youth min program and invited him to come check it out. He’s been there every week since!

  5. Both of my most recent recruits I just walked up to and basically said “Hey! What do you think about serving in the youth ministry?” I explained what was involved and they got back to me later and said yes.

  6. Our most recent volunteer we found at our summer camp. He was serving on staff at the camp we went to and goes to school in the town where we live. I got together with him when he got back in town and talked with him about just checking everything out for a couple weeks. He’s been connected since then!

  7. I have been at my church for one year and 3 months in that time I have asked people to help out on Wednesdays, in my asking they said yes, but after a couple weeks or a month or two they would just stop. I get in and out to the habbit of taking the youth out for a coke, one month I will take at lest 1 or 2 teens a week another month no one, but one day I was talking to one of my youth’s parents (Dad) and we had a great talk not about church but just about sports, hunting and hobbies. So the next week I went to the house of that teenager again but not to talk to the teenager the dad, had another good talk about life a little about church and our relationship start to grow and I told him, I really enjoy or talk and that I have lived in this town for over a year and I would have to say you are my closest friend here and he said I enjoy hang out with you ( I guess this is how grown man make friends without asking will you be my friend), anyway I asked him if he would like to help me out with the youth on Wednesday and he was excited that I asked he let me know that because of his job he could not be there all the time but he would make it when he could and he is able to attend at lest 2 – 3 a month which is awesome. That is my story.

  8. For our two most recent volunteers. My wife and I took them out to supper and dropped the question. After they said yes it was a great time to get to know them more and lay out our vision for the youth ministry!

  9. A volunteer that came from the most unlikely of places (or “groups” in the chruch). We were going to summer camp and I did not have a female sponsor. I had several conversations with a retired senior lady in our church. She had told stories of her children and grandchildren. Remembering these stories and how tough she was I just decided to ask her. She walked with a limp, and had to go slow down the stairs but was tough as nails. She had a wonderful time and really connected with the kids.

  10. Jessica is a college aged student who went on a missions trip to the Dominican Republic with our churc. She wanted to volunteer with our high & jr high students after working with them on the trip.

  11. I went through the list of people I had to choose from and asked the least likely one to say, “Yes, It’s about time I get involved.” Two days later I received a reply saying, “Yes, It’s about time I get involved.” He’s going to be a great asset to the Youth Ministry.

  12. I inherited three of my volunteers when I started the job. And the others have come around through a painstaking begging process.

  13. For most of my volunteers, I just went up and asked them. But for one volunteer, I asked her to be a part of a 21 day project, where she met one-on-one with one of my students once a week during those 21 days. As I watched them interact, I saw a gifting, and I asked her to be more involved. She couldn’t believe she was that good at interacting with students, but she said yes!

  14. One of the best ways we have gotten solid volunteer servants in our youth ministry is through our church’s Disciple Bible Study classes. At the end of this year-long Bible study- they go around and share with each other what they see their gifts being and where a great place for them to use their gifts in the church. Several were told by the class and the teachers that they would be great working with the youth. Then the teacher sent them our way and we interviewed them and they were grounded in their faith and are now some of our BEST volunteers! -It really works out wonderfully working with the other leaders in the church to find quality volunteers!

  15. We have monthly themed “Food Nights” at our Youth Group. We are doing a “bacon-themed” food night, which I have found is an awesome way to recruit anyone, whether teenager (“Hey… want to come eat bacon until you puke?”) or adult volunteer (“Hey… want to come help serve bacon to teenagers?”).

  16. We hosted a Bar-B-Q dinner where I invited potential prospects and instead of sharing some overarching “ministry vision”, we had teens share specific stories of adults who had impacted them. After having 8-10 teens talk about life transformation and the adults who changed their lives, those at the dinner (most of them in fact) said “I want to someone like THAT!” 40 small group leaders were signed up that night.

    Simple Strategy: Testimony from the teens they will serve alongside.

  17. Its crazy, two of my volunteers are parents, which I typically shy away from because its the kids time away, but these parents get the need to be cool and give a distance.


    My three best counselors are my former youth. They are younger, they get what I am doing, they know my expectations and they have bought into my vision for youth ministry.

    So they were not really plugged into the church when I got back after a 7 year absence (I took a new job, but they took me back, yeah they actually took ME back!) and I said…”Hey come give back and be a part, I need some good volunteers” and they jumped in and have been dedicated as I could ever ask for since.

  18. I invited those I wanted to volunteer to a supper/meeting so I could share with them I wanted them to pray about being a part of our youth staff. I also had a interview with each one of them.

  19. If YM seems to peek an interest, I usually begin the arm twisting, hog-tieing, and whatever else it takes. Some of the best ways to recruit are through your volunteers, who know other people that have a heart for youth ministry.

  20. We had just implemented a new text messaging software through our database at church. It was great because it could pull any phone number from any queried group in the system and send them all a text message. This is great for a youth ministry. The very first text read: “You have been signed up for HopeYouthMinistry text message updates. 2-4 texts a month. To stop visit myhopeyouth.com.”
    This text was supposed to go out to all students in 6th to 9th grade, however, somehow it went to the ENTIRE church. Needless to say, I had some very “nice” emails from several church members about how they did not sign up for this.
    However, one older gentleman in the church, took that as an invite and spent significant time in prayer over joining our team. Three weeks later, he was riding in a van with us en route to our middle school mission trip and is now looking forward to the school year with the MS guys.

  21. I was running a March Break Drama Camp, it was the Sunday before and I needed one more volunteer (you know how that works!). I asked a few of the more likely prospects and got the usual “previous commitments, would love to help” speech. I spotted one lady who was very bubbly and friendly but not at all involved in our youth ministry. I cornered her (yes, cornered) and asked what she was doing the next day. When she told me she had no morning plans I immediately asked her if she would help us out. She agreed. I’ve gotten a few volunteers this way, and followed up with them to get them more involved with our youth in later events.

  22. We have been growing over the last year so we are in great need of more help as we are praying about dividing our growing group into some small groups. We have one of those churches where everything is done by the 10%. We are very blessed to be growing with people who have been involved in ministry at other churches previously. Unfortunately, it seems that their move is often due to a need for a break from the “busy-ness” of ministry. God has given us success in “recruiting” one of these men. We have asked him to join us for our Sunday morning group to get to know our kids, and help teach on an as needed basis. He has since gone to summer camp, and is stepping up more in teaching. He has also helped to teach me a lot because he is an older gentlemen than I and has taught me a lot while going about business “quietly.”

  23. I have found that blanket announcements about help needed is a waste of time. Personal invites to simply check out what working with students is like is what works best. What even works better: constant encouragement, solid training and fun simple gifts go a long way to keeping our volunteers feel valued and excited about being a part of the most exciting ministry team in the church!

    My next big recruiting challenge: jr high sunday morning bible study leader.

  24. Hi! My husband and I became pastors at a wonderful church a little over a month ago. I have inherited a few spectacular volunteers but I got a helper for my class by calling her and asking her. I’ve been told to ask, “would you like to…” instead of “will you please help…”.

  25. My church has something we call “First Serve”, where anyone from the church can basically check any ministry out as an observer, with no commitment attached, and see if it’s something they want to be involved with, and that’s how I have recruited some of my volunteers.

  26. The best way I have found to recruit is by personal invite..normally of friends… if they aren’t friends they soon become good friends.
    My most recent recruits are older youth who have shown living faith and faithfulness (stuck around).

  27. Jon; I am in the throes of this right now…but I d have a story of how my best female volunteer is still coming – 5 yrs running.
    Her story is similar to the example in your post: I asked her to come along to a retreat and she was hooked from then on. I will say the one elelement that helps is the spousal support of this individual and the clear boundaries we set upon her involvement. She now drives,teaches, leads a small group and is mentoring a couple girls. Great volunteer, all from one invite to a retreat and regular check-in with her and her life outside of ministry.

  28. i inherited two great ones, and married the best. looking to expand the breadth soon, though, and sure to be met by an onslaught of “no”.

  29. I asked her want to go on an all expense paid trip to Atlanta for a weekend to be a part of some great worship, hear good speakers, staying in a nice hotel, I will do all the driving, with a bunch of my favorite friends. The dates are….. Oh by the way my friends are 8 awesome jr. highers and you and I will be the only two adults.
    It worked she is the best female sponsor I have ever had and she’s still going after about 10 years now.

  30. All of the people I have recruited are people that I thought would do a good job, so I asked them to help out. Oddly enough, despite all the fears of rejection, no one has ever said no right away. If I get a no, it’s after the volunteer has figured out that it’s not the right area of ministry to work in.

  31. First, I was given suggestions by my lead pastor for people that he thought would work well in youth ministry, or had already shown interest in youth ministry. I also had some volunteers come up to me and flat out say, “we want to be a part of youth ministry.” The other volunteers that I usually get are parents of the youth, or friends of ours that have a desire and ability to work with youth.

  32. I needed an extra female adult leader for a mission trip to Mexico in 2007 after another leader backed out with a few months to go. I asked a longtime friend of my wife’s who was a teacher to consider joining us to fill the spot because I knew she had time off. She jumped at the opportunity and has been one of our lead female volunteers ever since.

  33. I have two sponsors just recently helping. The first was told by his wife that she has been to all their sons events and clubs till now. Now that he is a teenager and old enough to be in youth group, he’s all yours. The second was a sponsor of the past youth director. When the youth director moved west, the sponsors all bailed. Now this sponsor has been elected to be on the Church Board, he is required to be affiliated with a church program ministry. He chose youth. Three of my graduated seniors want to become sponsors now. God must be preparing me for big growth. I started with 5 teens and now have 12. Now that school has started, who knows? I’m coming up on my one year anniversary as a volunteer youth director this October. I have so much yet to learn. Thank you for your blog.

  34. My most recent volunteer was the result of me asking one of our young adults, who also serves on the worship team, to prayerfully consider working with the middle school students once a month for a quarter. She was hesitant and felt intimidated at first, but has built relationship and has been working with the students for almost a year.

  35. I recruited a volunteer to help with our Middle School students by asking them what their middle school days were like? When they told me tough, I asked what helped them survive and they said an adult who showed interest in them (teacher, youth minister, family friend). I then asked them if they had ever thought about being that positive influence in one of today’s youth’s lives. This approach helped a few times, but also fizzled on those that never had a positive influence. I run our High School Ministry, Middle School Ministry, Sunday School, as well as other small group ministries. I am trying to balance this while also getting my Masters in Theology. I could use new ideas on how to recruit helpers for all of the ministries I do so I don’t have run myself to death trying to do everything. Thank you for the contest! 🙂

  36. I prayed about who would be a godly woman to help with our female students. God brought to mind a lady who leads other women in Bible study. I asked if she would consider working with our youth. We had some ideas about what her role would be and where God has gifted her. She said YES! Actually, she said the Holy Spirit had been tugging at her to parnter with me and the youth. God is GOOD!

  37. I asked and asked her to prayerfully consider… she did and said yes! I am working on a new way of getting more parents to volunteer, as well. Thanks for the support!

  38. I teach our Sunday program for 1st through 5th graders several months out of the year. Our Youth Ministry Leader decided to host an open house. We invited parents to visit while I presented what we did each week and I invited parents to stay for lesson, not really thinking they would! But much to my surprise and er…delight?…many of them did, so I had the distinct pleasure of “teaching” adults the lesson, which is very different than teaching kids! Anyway, we were able to sign up one couple to teach several times a year, and also several individuals signed up to help with check in. I think it really helped that they got to see exactly what they would be doing!

  39. I used to try and act really cool to get volunteers with the thought volunteers would be like, “I want to hang with that dude!” What I’ve found works better is being humble and while not sounding desperate but letting them know how much I need them. I took a friend out to lunch once and explained to him why we needed people like him serving in youth ministry and that week he recruited his wife and another couple to help.

  40. Hi Jonathan,
    In response to your question of how I got my volunteer, all I did was make an announcement at church. I said “Anyone who has a heart for teenagers, and would like to help out with TFC (that’s our ministry) let me know. A mom of one of my new 6th graders came up to me after church and said she would like to help. Now, the trick is how do I utilize her and get her involved and keep her. My last volunteer left because I didn’t keep her up to date well enough on events. She felt I didn’t need her anymore. I learned a lot from that situation but would love to have a copy of your book so I can recruit even more volunteers and keep them.

  41. My most recent volunteer came up to me after church on Sunday morning. I announced that we were going to have a youth ministry/parent meeting where I’d pass out my calendar for the next 6 months. She came up and told me her great experiences she had when she was a teen and had a huge desire to pass that experience onto the teens we have today. She going to be sponsoring some events in the next 6 months!

  42. The way that usually works for me is to identify a potential volunteer and ask. Make sure you don’t sound needy but let them know you have an opportunity for them! We also have a sample sereve whereas they come in and work alongside someone in the area they are interested in no strings attached. If they like it great if not we help them find something else that fits their gifts and personality. I love that the ones who are adament about not working with teens love it the very first time and are hooked.

  43. A personal invite to come and see what is going on in the youth program, followed up with would you like to be a part of this ministry. Recently I had a few volunteers step out of the program because their child graduated, so I am now in the process of identifying new volunteers trying to stay away from parents. Please help!!!!!!

  44. One of my volunteer’s I found through a mission trip (not a youth trip-a church wide trip) that our church went on. We went to Joplin to serve that community and so, I took some teens. Well, I needed some help with a situation with some girls (drama & health stuff) that I could not fulfill, so I asked one of the ladies that was with us to go and check on them for me to see if they were ok.

    When I saw how she (later on after her initial contact with the girls) continued to check on the girls the next morning and begin getting to know them through our “van rides” to and fro, and asked her later after the trip, “have you ever thought of volunteering in the youth ministry? The way you dealt with those girls, the way that you handled yourself and spoke truth into them at that time…would you consider?” Well, she is ROCKING IT OUT in my youth ministry and she still says to me from time to time, “I would have NEVER thought I’d be a youth worker Scott if you would have never asked me…but I LOVE the youth ministry and love these kids…”

    BTW, she is almost 50 yrs old and LOVING youth ministry! 😉

  45. One of the best ways I have found to recruit is to ask students who they connect with. I just met with a woman that went on a multi-generational missions trip with 2 of our Senior High girls. The girls connected so well, that THEY RECRUITED her on the spot and as soon as they got back they asked me to follow up. Get STUDENTS involved!

  46. We just had a “How to train volunteers when you get them and who to look for
    meeting with our Leadership Team at my church. I actually learned a thing or two even though I have been in ministry 10 years. I have had very little effectiveness in procuring volunteers in the past. But in less than a week I’ve already got 1 plugged in, and more in the works. Of course the first one will need sometime to find their legs but they are excited and that’s a start.

  47. After observing a friend of mine interacting with the youth in our Church. I decided to take the step of asking him if he would have any interest in working with me in the Youth Ministry. That began a two year journey of him serving in the Youth Ministry.
    I was very thankful to have someone that loved God and wanted to share that love with the youth of our Church.

  48. We are a smaller church of just under 200 people. I recently led a Sunday School Training class on September 2 and have my next one September 9. We already have 5 new volunteers as a result and will be able to expand our children’s ministry classes as a result!

    We also led a Wednesday evening Children & Youth Ministry dinner and training on September 5. We had our current coaches name people they felt would be good coaches, prayed for their involvement, then personally invited them to training. As a result, we have two new coaches for children’s ministry and two new coaches in our youth ministry.

    We attacked recruiting with prayer, personal invites, Sunday announcements, emails, and Facebook training invites. Our ministry volunteers have grown as a result and it was a lot easier than anticipated!

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