Enlisting the Volunteers you need
A common concern among leadership through the years has been “the enlistment of volunteers.“ Clearly there are more places to minister than there are volunteers rising up to respond. Here are a few suggestions to help you connect to the volunteers you need.
Jesus reminded his followers that they were to pray to the Lord of the harvest so that He will send forth laborers into the mission fields (Matthew 9:38; Luke 10:2). Prayer often is our after thought, and not our first thought when it comes to enlisting volunteers.
It helps to remember that we can’t “call out” workers ourselves, because it the Lord’s work to send them. The teachers and leaders we enlist in our own power never quite work, and we often miss the very ones God wants to send us.
People will connect to you as you connect them with the passion you feel for God and His work. If this is more of a career for you than it is a calling, people will not be drawn to the fields. People need to see what you see, and feel the passions you feel. Share the dream God has given you as often as you have an opportunity to share it. Take people with you to let them see what God has shown you instead of going by yourself. God’s passion through you will be evident to others, and people can and will respond more easily.
Often a problem with enlistment relates to our own limited vision. Your preconceived notions of who can serve may hinder the flow of people God wants to send your way. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:
What about the children?
How old should children be before you can allow them to minister and/or teach along side of you? At Mission Arlington, we believe that children who know the Lord and feel called to participate can help out. Sometimes they participate in smaller ways, and then at other times our children do actually help teach a part or all of the Bible study lesson. If you continually reject the notion that children can teach the lesson alongside of you, then they won’t want to teach when they grow up and you finally are ready to allow it.
What about the Harvest?
It may be difficult to believe, but the harvest will often be your best resource. How far along spiritually do you believe people should be before you will allow them to teach God’s word? How much of God’s word do people need to know before they can help someone else know it as well?
Sometimes the teaching of God’s word and the stories in the Bible will help someone grow spiritually, especially if the teacher is in a mentoring relationship with someone who can give appropriate guidance. And sometimes people are more ready and able to teach than we believe they are.
The point here is not to put spiritually immature people into positions of spiritual authority, but to be aware that people may be more prepared to teach than we think they are. It is important not to allow our prejudgments to limit the people God is wanting to send our way.
What about those who aren’t being used?
Whether we want to admit it or not, often we attempt to enlist the people that everyone else wants to use. These are usually people of power and/or position that are well known in the church or the community. Yet there are people everywhere who want to serve that are overlooked.
The reasons they aren’t used varies with each different person, but most often it is because they don’t meet some imaginary standard of success or social status. Yet God doesn’t look to the outward appearance or judge successes the way we do. He looks to the heart of those He calls. He prepares and uses those who are willing to be used. We need to be open to receiving those He sends our way.
You may be surprised to know that as much as we need volunteers in our work, and as much as we tell others that no one is coming alongside to help us, we often do not communicate that need effectively. Sometimes we broadcast the need for help in such a general way that no one in particular gets the message. It is important to speak about the need for workers in specific ways, using multiple mediums, to as many audiences as possible. It is also important at some point, however, to “ask” people for their help.
The information you present and the expectations for the work should be clearly presented to someone in such a way so that they need to either accept or decline the invitation. People do respond to God’s prompting in miraculous ways, but as often as not he uses regular people to accomplish and ordinary channels to accomplish His plan.
When you communicate the need effectively, people will often respond. It is important to be available for people when they are ready to work. Often we attempt to force people into a volunteer schedule which meets our needs, but inherently limits when people can serve. Be available when God sends people your way and watch what God can do.
The responsibility to enlist volunteers ultimately belongs to each one of those serving in the fields, and not just the one who is giving leadership. We probably will never have all the help we need at any given moment. Hopefully, together and under God, we’ll have the right people in the right way and at just the right time.