If your church is like most, then you’ve seen at minimum a 20% and maybe even as much of a 65% decrease in serving volunteers. Wherever you find yourself between the 20-65% spectrum the reality is, Sunday is always coming and you need volunteers to make it happen.
But that is way easier said than done.
Every time I’ve looked at other churches and how stacked with quality team members they were it would always leave me asking the question,
“Where is this magical tree that these people grow on that this church has somehow stumbled across?” Maybe you’ve asked the same question before.
Here’s the thing about that “magical volunteer tree”…it exists! It’s just not located across town for you to easily walk up to and pluck off 2 guitarists, 1 drummer, and a side of fries. It’s something that you have to cultivate in your own soil.
What if I told you that we could teach you how to create a culture that reproduces volunteers that will result in you having team members that are frustrated that they aren’t playing more.
So how do you get people to plug in and begin serving in this weird era? That’s what this is guaranteed to help you process & strategize through.
Here’s what we know about strategies. Every strategy is only as good as its implementation. Knowledge without implementation is worthless. We want to help you with the implementation part & have designed this with accountability in mind.
Below you’ll see the 6 strategies we believe will enable you to take your recruitment strategies to the next level. At the end of each strategy, there is a link that says, “CLICK HERE TO PARTNER ALONGSIDE WORSHIP ONLINE IN DEVELOPING YOUR WORSHIP TEAM’S RECRUITMENT PLAN”. By clicking that link you’re put into a strategizing process all aimed at helping you grow your team.
Why Should You Partner with Us?
Let me ask you this, how many goals have you set that you never achieved? Chances are a lot of those goals never had any type of accountability attached to it. Recruitment is one of the make it or break it in volunteer ministry. You have to get this right!
Stats show that you have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you commit to someone and 95% chance of completing the goal if you have an accountability system attached to it.
That’s why you should partner with us.
Our staff is full of people that have been or currently are Worship Pastors or other forms of Worship Leadership, so we know this is one of the greatest stressors.
That’s why we are here: To partner with you in your greatest needs.
So let’s jump in with the first strategy. Arguably the most important thing you can do.
1. Consistently & Specifically Pray for What You Long to See
*insert eye-roll and some sort of “WOW…OKAY CHURCH BOY…GREAT FIRST STEP…” statement going on in your head*
But I’m serious!
We are going to walk you through a ton of systems and strategies, but before we jump into them we have to start off by laying this foundation:
The greatest strategies & systems can not replace a move of God.
I’ve been in ministry leadership for a long time and the thing that I have to remind myself of constantly is God wants His church to thrive and be healthier more than I want that. So I want to invite Him into the process as much as I possibly can, but it doesn’t stop there. Be specific in your prayers.
Constantly I have called out to the Lord for the needs present in my area of ministry and continually He has heard my prayer and met me in it. So be bold and ask Him to fulfill the vision that He has given you for your Worship Department.
2. Create a Team Worth Joining
This is something that I see a lot at churches. It’s not that you haven’t had great people come through your doors or even used to be on your team, but because of a few different reasons, they don’t end up staying very long.
Could it be that there is something going on in your culture that keeps people at bay?
It’s really easy to answer that question with a quick, “No, that’s not me and it’s not my church.” But maybe it is & there’s only one way to know. ASK!
Everyone is blind to their blind spots. That’s why they are called blind spots. So something that would be really fruitful for you as a leader, is contact past team members and ask them, “Hey! Why was it that you stopped serving or left our ministry?” I’m telling you, as a leader, this is one of the greatest things that you can do.
Here are a few reasons that we see people stepping away from serving at different ministries.
Burnout is real and if it unfolds in someone’s life does NOT always mean they are unhealthy, not spending enough time in the presence of God, or any of those other spiritually oppressive and manipulative remarks.
Humans have capacities.
Sadly, some ministry leaders are operating outside of their capacity and their un-health and dysfunction is spewing all over the those they lead. Burnout is something real that many people experience, so what are you doing to ensure that your team members aren’t overworked?
No sense of true community
Everything seems transactional and the leader doesn’t take an actual interest in investing into individual members. Sadly, this is something I see a lot!
“We have a place for your gift, but there’s not a place for you & your heart.”
Might seem harsh and easy to say, “Well that’s not our church.”, but let me ask you, can you tell me at least one thing currently going on in the lives of your team members?
The church wasn’t created to just do ministry; clock in and clock out. The church was created to be a place of true community. If you disagree, read Acts 2 and get back to me.So how are you truly cultivating community on your team?
Sidenote: I don’t think you can do this to the fullness of what the Kingdom of God calls us to if the only time you’re with your team is in a Sunday morning context.
A greenroom relationship is not community.
Systems are super unclear
I’m telling you, people highly value clarity. This was something I was terrible at in my early days of ministry. People never knew what was going on and although I was giving them information in a timeline that worked for me, often they felt rushed and under-prepared because they needed more time than I gave them.
Lack of Clear & Fast Onboarding Process
Great systems are everything in ministry. Hear me, they DO NOT take the place of the Holy Spirit in what we do, but they provide clarity and that is KEY when it comes to managing people; especially volunteers. Additionally, people are more likely to be proactive the sooner you engage with them.
Too many times I’ve watched worship team applicants decide to not engage in serving all because the worship pastor/director didn’t contact them quickly enough.
To put it plainly, you should never be taking more than 2-days to reply/reach out and begin the onboarding process with a new volunteer.
That leads me to this question: what is your onboarding process? If you don’t have a defined onboarding process, we’d love to help you.
Open-ended Serving Time Period
Something that has made managing expectations for who I can rely on a lot easier is asking team members to commit to a 6-month or 1-year serving duration. It matters because it allows me as a leader to know I can rely on people for a certain amount of time, but more importantly, it allows volunteers to not feel locked in forever.
That matters because it makes them feel like you value them enough to know that if serving on the team isn’t working for them, there is a built-in time that they could utilize to transition out.
I would not recommend having everyone sign these commitment durations at the same time, just to keep from everyone’s serving contract ending at the same time and running the risk of having a ton of volunteers exit at the same time.
People need plenty of time to plan and prepare. I have watched time and time again, people get incredibly frustrated and drained by last-minute scheduling and setlist changes.
So, we suggest scheduling your team 2-Months out & your setlist 3-Weeks Out. Now, this does not mean that you can’t change your set or anything.
We 100% believe that sometimes God reveals the right song the week or day of. That’s why we suggest scheduling everything as far out as possible. That way your team’s prepared so that when a song changes last minute, they only have to focus on learning one song in a short period of time instead of the whole set.
3. Play the Long Game
One of my friends once dated a girl whose billionaire-father regularly purchases a ton of stock options in startup companies that he sees a lot of financial promise in. From there he’ll weasel his way into voting power positions, collude with other board members, and bully the company into making decisions that will quickly generate a ton of money at the cost of the company’s long-term success. The stock prices then skyrocket & he sells off all his shares right before the company crashes into the ground.
Sounds sketchy, right?
Sadly, so many ministry leaders find themselves unconsciously making similar decisions: immediate growth at the cost of the long-term health and success of the department or organization at large.
Two of the most common volunteer killers: overscheduling and burnout.
You need to come up with a long term gameplan of getting people on your team that doesn’t kill your current team in the process. As leaders we can say that we “prioritize people over programs and products”, but our actions prove if that’s actually true of our leadership.
So, here are a few strategies that will help you play the long game and keep your current team healthy.
Push Seasons with Set Durations
There are times where volunteers are slim and we are trying to build our team. In these times, something that is always good to communicate to the team is that you are entering a push season, where you’re going to expect a little more from your team members as you are building the team.
THESE SEASONS SHOULD ALWAYS COME WITH A SET DURATION AND THEY SHOULD NEVER BE INDEFINITE!
This is not an excuse for you to relax your recruitment efforts & if you don’t do this well, it can communicate to the team that it was all a manipulative ploy to get more out of them – eventually leading to burnout and them stepping away from the team.
Bring in Outside Help
For some reason when it comes to bringing in outside help, people can feel really weird about it. I too have struggled with this issue because ultimately I want people on my team that are members of the church community. But over time my heart has come to see it as a very strategic decision for 2 reasons.
You aren’t paying for talent, you’re investing in your team’s long-term health.
Bringing in outside help gives the opportunity for team members to get a break from serving, which directly results in their longevity. Having someone come in once a month to relive a weekly player could lengthen the longevity of that musician or vocalist by years.
To put into numbers, bringing an outsider in 1 Sunday a month could get you 40 more Sundays from the relived vocalist or musician per year.
Quality people want to be a part of a quality team.
It’s tough to say, but if your team isn’t quality then the likelihood that talented people would want to join your team isn’t likely either. It is so hard to say, but it’s something I’ve watched continually proven true. So bring quality people in to attract other quality people to your team.
If you do this, make sure you are clear with your intentions with those you are bringing in.
Utilize Technology to Fill the Gaps
Technology is at an amazing place right now. You can use it to supplement players that aren’t on stage.
“Well, we don’t like using tracks because it doesn’t allow us to flow.”
I totally get that point, BUT the reason you can’t flow isn’t because tracks don’t allow for flow. It’s because you aren’t running your tracks in a way that allows for flow. So how do you do that? Soon we’ll be releasing an article that shows you exactly how!
4. Use Your Worship Team as Your Recruitment Team
Every healthy team has a culture of recruitment.
As a leader, you might feel like this has to solely fall on your shoulders and often this is the approach that leaders take. But your team members have a reach and access to people that you will never have.
So, have a conversation with your team about what it would look like to have a team that was so resourced by volunteers that they would never have to worry about burnout and be able to regularly experience going to church alongside their family.
Then begin to explain that the only way this will happen is if everyone on the team commits to asking God to give them opportunities to connect and recruit people that He wants to be a part of the team.
Recently one of our drummers, named Paul, felt God lay on his heart to ask a guy that was sitting next to him on the back-row during service if he played music and if he did that he should try out. The guy said,
“Paul, it’s so crazy that you are saying that! I’ve been going to church here for a while and have wanted to get involved, but for some reason, I just haven’t taken that step.”
So Paul connected me with him, Marcellus, and I put him through our on-boarding process.
Turns out Marcellus is an absolutely amazing pianist & vocalist and is fitting into our community amazingly! Literally, he served for the first time this past Sunday and absolutely crushed it!
I added Marcellus to our team group message, celebrated Paul’s step of obedience, and this was what Marcellus replied with, “Seriously! I’m so happy he was obedient. It made all the difference that specific day.”
What if there are people sitting in your pews that are just waiting for someone to ask them to get involved? I would dare to say there are!
It’s more than just telling your team, “Hey! You’re now the recruitment team. GO!” Your approach is everything.
Celebrate the Wins, Reinforce the Why, & Remind them Continually
Your Team will Replicate What You Celebrate
For a lot of teams, recruiting will be a new concept. The only way to see it truly become a part of your culture is if you talk about it continually. You have to celebrate with your team moments where they go above and beyond.
Celebration leads to replication.
If you are constantly talking about and celebrating how people are bringing people into the team, your team will know what is valued and will begin to replicate it. BUT you have to keep the why in front of them.
People will Work for a What but will Die for a Why
Are you telling your people what you need (more people to serve) or are you telling them why you need them to serve (to create a healthy culture of opportunity to use our gifts to lead people in worship & free of burnout). There are going to be times where we don’t feel like connecting with people and recruiting. The whys help us remind us what’s worth it.
When You’re Sick of Saying it is When They Finally Remember
No matter who you are, things we hear often go in one ear and out the other. Even when we truly desire to remember them. This is why we must continue to remind our teams about the things that we want to implement. One thing that I’ve had to do to ensure that I am continually repeating these things to my team is setting weekly reminders on my phone to say something at every weekday rehearsal and at some point on Sunday.
5. Develop Your Bullpen
Now it’s time for a story about the most cringe-y and hilarious audition experience I have ever been a part of.
A few years back I was conducting auditions alongside a few of our team members. Every year we would audition 150+ students over the course of 2 days, in 5-minute increments over 4-hour chunks. At one point we had so many students show up to auditions that we had to split up the team that was sitting in auditions.
Because of the sheer volume of auditions, we’d record all of them and later dump all of the footage into one central folder. This way we could watch the auditions that the other panel observed.
After the auditions, I started to watch the footage from the panel that I was not. I quickly realized that they set the camera up backwards & instead of filming the person auditioning it was filming the panel.
Not five seconds later, I see one of the panelists begin laughing as someone whose audition was American Idol blooper reel worthy. Have you ever been in a moment where something was so funny, but because you couldn’t laugh it made it even funnier? Well, this is exactly what was taking place here.
As I’m watching this panelist laughing at the student who is auditioning, I then see them pull out their phone and begin to film the “train wreck”.
Apparently, the person auditioning had turned around in the middle of the audition and sang facing the wall because they were too nervous to face the panel.
Have you ever had someone audition that was so bad that it caused you to have a similar response? Hopefully, you didn’t die laughing and proceed to pull out your phone and record them like my friend did.
Now there are such things as hopeless situations, but a lot of the time people that audition for our worship teams aren’t so cringe-worthy that it makes you want to film their performance and send it to @failarmy, @memezar, or @jerryoftheday. Usually, they are just a little bit of coaching and guidance away from becoming a reliable and quality part of your worship team!
Here’s the only thing, just because you’re a great worship leader doesn’t mean you’re going to be great at developing vocalists or instrumentalists. This is where partnering with people that have the skills to develop people is so crucial. You might be asking, well how do I do that? Here are a few resources for you that can help develop your musicians.
Worship Online Tutorial Site
Listen, we’ve seen a lot of different resources out there and honestly, nothing prepares your team for your Sunday morning set like the song tutorial run-throughs on our site. We hear all the time how Worship Online impacts the quality of a Sunday morning service, unlike any other resource. If you want your team to come prepared on Sunday morning, knowing everything they need, you have to get them connected to our tutorial walkthroughs.
Our Blog Resources
We have a massive list of vocal and instrumentalist development resources as well as generic musical development resources too. Here a few of the 160+ incredible posts we have available, all aimed at helping you and your team go to the next level.
6 Little Known Ways the Best Musicians Practice
Music Theory 101
Advanced Music Theory for Worship
4 Keys to Singing Like a Pro on Sunday
Top 5 Worship Drumming Tips with Brendan Tan of Hillsong Y&F
Master Bass Guitar Technique with Tom Furby of Hillsong Y&F
Keys Rig Rundown: Gear & Software
Worship Guitar Tone Master Class
What to Do if You’re the ONLY Electric Guitar Player in Your Band
Sunday mornings are hectic and often there is not enough time to address problem areas.After church for a few Sundays, take some time to evaluate those in need of development or even overall growth areas that your team needs to make.
Once you’ve narrowed down the growth areas and what it will take to conquer them, bring your team in for a monthly or occasional team night to worship together, enjoy some time of community, & workshop these areas in need of development.
If you would like some help developing processes for fixing these growth areas, we are always here as a resource to you! So reach out to us by using the chat feature in the bottom right corner of our page or by clicking “Contact Us” on the link at the footer of our page.
Give them Lessons
If you’re someone that is capable of equipping your team members with the skills necessary to get better, then create a weekly or bi-weekly time to sit down with them and develop their skills. Not only is it a great way for them to get better, but creates an amazing opportunity for you to build a relationship and invest in them individually.
If you don’t have the skills needed to give lessons to your team members…
Get them Signed Up for Lessons Locally or Online
1-on-1 lessons work wonders for developing abilities. If in-person lessons aren’t your thing or you don’t know of anyone in town, with where technology is today, there are plenty of instructors online that are equipped with everything you need to go to the next level.
Usually, team members are more than willing to pay for lessons to get better because it not only allows them to play better at church, but also it increases their ability overall.
If paying for lessons isn’t something that your team member is in a place to do, see if your church can afford to invest partially or fully in getting lessons for the team member. It might seem weird to pay for someone’s lessons, but their improvement directly affects the quality of your team.
A better team means a better worship experience for your community & also attracts quality players to want to join your team.
6. All Church Serving Challenge
Chances are you aren’t the only department at your church in need of more volunteers. Especially right now, every department has taken a massive hit on the number of volunteers engaging in serving.
So, get your staff to engage in a serving challenge where for 3-4 weeks from stage during announcements you ask for x-amount of volunteers to begin engaging in serving and you focus a significant amount of time on pitching the why.
This will not only get people involved in your department, but will benefit every department in the church too.
So much of great recruiting is all about consistency. More than likely you’ll need to tweak these strategies in a way that best works for you, but whatever you decide to do, be clear, consistent, & communicative.
I can not tell you how many times I have received compliments on the things we do not because we have the best strategies, but because we are clear, consistent, and communicative. So give yourself to those 3 things and watch your department grow.
If there’s anything we can ever do for you, do not hesitate to reach out. That’s why we exist and why we are here.
For those of you looking to take recruitment seriously, partner with us at let’s see that 95% achievement rate apply to you! A bigger, better, healthier team waits for you on the other side.