Every church, regardless of size, needs volunteers. Volunteers make Sunday services possible by providing childcare, greeting people as they arrive, running lighting and sound, and much more.

The challenge is in getting more people to serve on a regular basis. You may have tried several approaches to bridge that gap including announcements from the stage, videos, emails, asking people individually, and volunteer "job fairs."

Those methods can work. However, it’s best to first consider how the approach you decide to use will come across to potential volunteers.

Here’s what potential volunteers want to know:

No. 1: What would they expect me to do?

Here’s what they want to know:

  • How often would serve (weekly, monthly, etc.)?
  • Am I signing up for forever or is there an end date where I can change roles or stop serving for a while?
  • What does that volunteer role involve?
  • Who would I be reporting to (what volunteer leader or staff member coordinates that group)?

To answer these questions, develop a brief description for each volunteer role that includes what you expect. Refer to this document before asking people to serve.

No. 2: How do I know which role I'd do well in?

This can't be just about getting plugging holes in your volunteer team. Instead, match each individual up with the role the person is best suited to fill.

Consider having new volunteers take a personality or spiritual gifting test. You could also take 5 to 10 minutes and talk with the individual to get to know him or her.

  • What do you do for a living?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • Do you consider yourself really outgoing or more reserved?

Get to know individuals, and then place them in a role that seems to be the best fit.

No. 3: What if I sign up and realize I don't like this role at all?

Provide new volunteers a graceful and guilt-free way out. If they serve as a greeter for a couple of Sundays and realize they’d prefer working in the bookstore, make that smooth transition.

No. 4: Will I "fit in" with the current team?

Some people are better at making friends than others. If you started spending time with a new group, wouldn’t it be nice if the one person you knew introduced you? Of course it would!

Let potential volunteers know you’ll introduce them to the current team and will help them get connected.

No. 5: Why should I serve?

Most people won’t ask you this question. However, it’s something they'll consider at least subconsciously.

Why should I serve?

If you can't answer that one question, answering the others is a waste of time.

This isn't about why you need people to serve in the youth group. This is about why followers of Christ should serve others. Integrate that answer into communications about serving at your church.

Help potential volunteers understand why, remove any mystery about your expectations or the commitment involved, and help new volunteers get acclimated quickly with their new team.

This won’t get you a fully staffed volunteer team by next Sunday, but if you’ll answer those questions, you’ll build up a committed team in the coming months.