Recruitment: Getting Ready for a Harvest
Written by Jenni Stoddart
It hits sometime between August and September. First comes the sneezing, then the watery eyes and finally the permanently red snoz. In my teens it felt like the Rudolph curse – Spring hay fever. However, in full time ministry it became my yearly reminder. When my nose started to run it was time to think RECRUITMENT. Spring means harvest is on the way.
35'Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." 1He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.' (Matthew 9:35 – 10:1)
Take note! Jesus looks with compassion, recognizes their need as helpless sheep, sees these helpless sheep as a potential harvest (even Jesus liked to mix his metaphors) and responded with a call to prayer. I am sure I am not the only one who – like the disciples – have prayed for a worker and then discovered that I am in fact that worker.
Each August I would read this passage, reflect on it anew and begin the recruitment process in prayer. This is the most important and effective of the steps in any recruitment process. But here are additional strategies.
- The year is well underway and I can see the weak points.
- If I am planning something new for the next year I need to sow the seeds right now.
- I need to be aware that there is always big change at the end of each year.
- Although I should always be recruiting, committing to focus on it for a month guarantees my attention and means I can cross out time in my diary in advance.
Some Keys to Recruiting
- Pray regularly and thoughtfully. Pray with a list of church members in front of you.
Invite others to pray with you – e.g. your staff team, bible study group leaders, parents of children and youth you minister to.
2. Public Announcement
- With good reason many Church’s have stopped calling for volunteers from the front. This is a mistake. But a bigger mistake is to expect to get volunteers this way too. We need to make people aware that we are looking for workers for God’s harvest. Announcement from the front is an awareness-raising necessity that helps set good team culture. A practical way ahead is to ask for prayer in the Sunday Services.
3. Team Culture
- Don’t play Hungry Hippo! Don’t grab without concern for others. Don’t grab people just to fill a space. Seek to work with the other ministries in your church. One church I visited had brought their leaders together and written up all their volunteers, needs and brainstormed together about who to approach. Brilliant!
- Within your own team make sure you draw on the relationships of your team, encourage every member to keep an eye out for potential recruits and come to you with suggestions.
- Be prepared to be surprised. Your team might see potential that you do not.
4. Personal Invitation
- At this stage, you can now begin the invitation process.
- When you want to invite someone to be a worker, set aside a time to meet. Don’t just grab someone after church. This communicates that they are just an easy catch and they themselves don’t really matter.
- In meeting with someone acknowledge their skills and personality. Show them how they will be used. This communicates that you want them and not just an extra body. Set high expectations. Yes, people are busy but that means they want to hear you really need them, if they are going to give you their time.
- Listen. Let me say that again – listen, listen and listen some more. We need to hear the person’s concerns and expectations and commit to equipping them for the task.
- If you get an immediate “no”, ask the person to pray for a worker with you. (You don’t have to tell them of the dangerous precedent of Matthew 9!)
- If they want time to think, ask when they would like you to call to follow up. Make a definite time. This means when you call it will not be unexpected. Do not slip up on the return visit.
5. Have a go
- Invite the person to a team meeting and to the ministry concerned.
- Let your team know they are coming beforehand and encourage them to be welcoming.
- Use the team meeting to show the person where and how they are needed.
- Give this person an opportunity during the ministry to use their skills in small ways; ensure especially that they have the opportunity to connect with the children/youth.
- Make a time to connect after the ministry to talk about their experience.
Ha – choo. Even with all this it is God’s harvest and God’s wisdom that rules. Why did He create me with a sensitive nose? Why have I never outgrown enjoying the company of teenagers or loving the wisdom of children? I am not sure. However, I know that without the encouragement of others, without those who saw potential where I did not, and without the prayers of many, I would not find myself in ministry today. If you do nothing else this Spring, then every time you hear a sneeze or see a red nose do join Jesus and “ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.”