Recruiting Courtesies, Pt 2

In my last post I listed the first three of seven recruiting courtesies.  Here are the last four that can help us from being “rude recruiters”.

  • Give them a written description of what you expect.  We know what we want from a volunteer position and too often when we recruit someone we just assume they know what we want.  It’s a recipe for disaster when we don’t put our basic expectations for the role in writing.  Be as thorough as possible.  People don’t appreciate it when they get into the position and the leader says, “Oh by the way I forgot to tell you we need you to…”
  • Allow them two or three weeks to observe and shadow a veteran volunteer.  Remember just because a person has high enthusiasm about a new role doesn’t mean they have a high competence.  Give new volunteers time to understand and adjust to the culture of your ministry.   This not only equips your new recruit, but it impresses on your existing volunteers the value of mentor-based training. 
  • Provide adequate training.  We all know this is important but very few people do it.   Some make the excuse they don’t have time to do the training, but when the new recruit starts making mistakes you will have to invest the time on the back end to correct what they’re doing wrong.  Be wise and make the training investment on the front end.
  • Follow up within 30 days to see how they’re doing.  Within the first 30-60 days your new recruit will surely begin to experience some disappointments, defeats or disillusionment that could dampen their enthusiasm.  A good honest pulse check at the end of 30 days can help you encourage and coach the new volunteer resulting an a happier more productive team member. 
  • What other recruiting courtesies would you add to this list?

    Recruiting Courtesies, Pt 1

    The Fall church season is just around the corner and you know what that means…It’s time to recruit!  Unfortunately many church leaders have Rude Recruitment habits.  So in preparation for this season I thought I would take a couple of days and share a few thoughts on recruiting courtesies.  Here you go…

    • Give the potential recruit time to pray.  Never ask someone to make a decision on the spot.  When we do “on the spot” recruiting the individual feels the pressure to say “yes’ to you rather than truly having the opportunity to say “yes” to God.  Once you make the proposal tell them you’d like for them to take 3-4 days to pray about the opportunity before giving you an answer.
    • Tell the individual why you thought of them for them for this role.  Be very specific.  The initial recruitment moment is your first chance to cast vision to the potential candidate.  So take the opportunity to cast a vision of how their gifts, passion and personality match up with God’s vision for your area of ministry.  Help them see exactly how they can have a significant impact in your specific area.  Remember your job is not just to fill a position but to cast a vision.
    • Ensure the individuals gifts and passions fit the position.  Having the wrong person in a position is just as bad as having no one in the position, so be patient and find the right person with the right gifts.  When we recruit the wrong person to the wrong position we not only do the ministry a disservice but we do that individual a disservice. 

    I will be adding a few more in the next post but in the mean time…what other recruitment courtesies would you add to this list?

    Filling Your Leadership Pipeline to Overflowing

    A common belief among staff, as well as the average church member, is the staff is responsible for recruiting new leaders. This mentality is concerning because it limits recruitment efforts and creates a shortage of leaders in the church.

    We must remember one of the biggest factors for getting new people into leadership is their relationship to the person making the ask.

    Do you remember your first invitation into leadership? I do. Marjorie Willis, my hgh school English teacher asked me to consider leading the Christian Club on campus. Why she choose me I don’t know, I was the shyest kid in the entire school, but something prompted her to ask me. Because I had a close relationship with her I said I would pray about it. Had anyone else asked me I would have given them a flat out “No”. Over the next couple of weeks her voice guided me to a place where I couldn’t deny it was God calling me into that leadership role – So I said “yes”.

    • I said “yes” to her because I believed in the fact that she believed in me.
    • I said “yes” because I knew she would walk along side me and coach me.
    • I said “yes” because God knew it was her voice I would respond to more than any other.

    You see there are potential leaders in your church who will not respond to your invitation to lead, but would consider it if it came from a trusted friend. I’ve learned that people who may not respond to my voice will respond to another.

    Could you imagine what could happen if we would empower the voices of all our leaders to call others into leadership? I believe this would unleash an army of leadership recruiters that would keep the funnels of our leadership pipelines running full of growing leaders.

    So today’s question is not: Who are you challenging to step up into leadership? But instead, “Which of your leaders are you challenging to identify, recruit and raise up new leaders?”

    Four Lessons for Raising Commitment Level, Pt 3

    We’ve all probably heard the saying, “A half commitment is no commitment at all.”  Well, there’s a very real danger when someone is half committed to a cause.  It’s obvious because they’re distracted,  habitually absent or late, they make mistakes and seem overall disengaged.  When someone on your team has this type of variable commitment level it steals energy from your efforts.  It feels like the team isn’t firing on all cylinders.   

    In Luke 9:60 Jesus runs into a man who’s commitment was divided, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-bye to my family.’  While he seems to have a reasonable request, Jesus words reveal what was behind this man’s heart.  Jesus responded, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61)

    Everyone in that culture would know if a farmer plowing a field keeps looking back over his shoulder his rows will be crooked making his field difficult to work.  But come on, be reasonable, was this man’s desire to say “goodbye” to his family really a danger to the mission?   The verbs Jesus uses give us further insight, “putting his hand to the plow”, is in Aorist tense -past complete action.  And “looks back” is in Present tense – continuous action.  In other words he’s saying, “The man who has already made a commitment and has put his hand to the plow and is in the midst of plowing that field, cannot continually be looking back over his shoulder at the past.”

    Jesus didn’t want someone on his team with divided commitment.  In fact, we gain even further insight when Jesus said the person who looks back is not “fit” for service in the Kingdom of God.  The word “fit” is “euthetos” a Greek compound word made up of  “Good” and “Fit”.  In other words Jesus is telling this man, “This is not a good fit for you.”

    Raising Commitment Level Lesson #3 – Be Honest and help people find their fit.  If someone on your team is not fully committed to the cause, then it is likely they’re unhappy and draning the team of energy.  Be honest with them and help them find their fit…it’s only fair to both of you. And when you help them find their fit, their commitment level will go up.

    Four Lessons for Raising Commitment Level, Pt 2

    In 1983 Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple, sat with John Scully, the CEO of Pepsi, and challenged him with this question: “Scully do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water or do you want to change the world?”   That question caused Scully to leave Pepsi and serve as CEO of Apple for the next ten years. 

    Jesus laid down a similar challenge to a man he encountered on the road to Jerusalem, “He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father. “Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  Luke 9:59-60.

    Here’s a guy who seems to have a valid excuse. Burial of parents was a high priority in that culture. But the truth is we’re not sure if this guys father had actually died or not.  Many commentators indicate that this man would not be on the road to Jerusalem if his father had died, he would be at home with mourners preparing for the funeral.  So either way he was actually telling Jesus, “I am interested but not yet.”

    As leaders it will be common for us to encounter team members who are INTERESTED but not COMMITTED. So what do you do in this case?  Well, I love Jesus response, he presents the guy with two options…

    First – You can choose do what any ordinary person can do.  When he says, “let the dead bury the dead” he is speaking metaphorically.  In other words, those who are spiritually dead can take care of these simple, non-spiritual tasks.  OR Option two…

    Two – You can choose to use your life to make significant impact.  Jesus says, “You go proclaim the Kingdom of God.”   The word for “proclaim” is “diaggellō” which means, “to announce everywhere or publish abroad”.  Jesus is casting a compelling vision and having this man consider how he will invest his life.  He is inviting this man to help change the world.

    To raise the level of commitment…help followers feel the significance of the vision.

    Four Lessons for Raising Commitment Level, Pt 1

    A volunteer doesn’t show up, a staff member blows off a deadline or a key leader gives a half hearted effort.  A low commitment level of a team member can do serious damage to the focus of a leader, morale of a team and the success of a mission.  Therefore it’s essential as leaders that we know how to encourage the highest level of commitment from our followers. 

    Jesus and his disciples were making their way to Jerusalem when he was approached by a man wanting to join His team.  Luke’s report says, “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’” (Luke 9:57) Here’s a man who enthusiastically volunteered without being asked. And not only does he volunteer but his words indicate a high level of commitment.

    But look at Jesus response, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58)   At first glance Jesus seems to be discouraging this volunteer rather than embracing him.  But in actuality Jesus was simply clarifying expectations.  We know from Matthews’s account that this man was a Scribe, meaning he was an expert in the law and most likely lived a very comfortable, even luxurious lifestyle. 

    Jesus didn’t want this man’s enthusiasm to distract him from the realities of the call.  If you look back at Luke 9:51-56 you see Jesus and his disciples were refused a place to stay just that very day.  This was a reality of following Jesus and this man needed to be aware.  And keep in mind the Scribes saw Jesus as an enemy.  Any Scribe who switched to Jesus “team” would be viewed as a traitor.  Following Jesus wouldn’t be an easy calling for this man and Jesus wanted him to count the cost.

    Have you ever come across an Enthusiastic Beginner who you thought would make the biggest difference in your ministry, only to have them quit two months later because it wasn’t what they thought it would be?  Leaders make a critical mistake when they equate the enthusiasm of a new recruit with commitment.  So here’s the first lesson for creating a high level of commitment   Always set out Clear Expectations from the Beginning.

    Softening the Call of Leadership

    I found myself standing toe to toe recently with a potential new leader. As I took a deep breath and ask them to consider stepping into a new position I was overcome with the temptation to soften the call of leadership. I wanted to emphasize how little time it would take, how low the expectations were and how easy the position would be. The temptation to soften the call of leadership is huge.

    I was reading Luke 9 yesterday where Jesus came across three potential new leaders. Listen how he handled the call to leadership. “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” 62Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

    I can’t think of one instance where Jesus softened the call to leadership when he was recruiting new leaders. In fact it’s just the opposite. Jesus was forthright and bold when he was asking for commitment. When we soften the call to leadership we run the risk of dampening the new leader’s passion, diminishing their sense of significance and decreasing their level of commitment.

    The greater the need we have for leaders, the greater the temptation to soften the call of leadership. When our goal is simply to “Fill a Position” then we tend to soften the call to leadership. But when our goal is to find a passionate person who will serve God’s purpose then we will be bold and honest about the commitment and the level of expectations.

    Do you need to recruit a new leader this week? As you approach them allow God to use you to stir their passion, vision and commitment.

    Please Come Board my Sinking Ship

    What are you communicating when you ask someone to join your ministry team?  This is a really important question because what you’re communicating both verbally and non-verbally could determine if you get a “yes” or a “no”. 

    • When you post a handwritten sign on the children’s ministry door that says, “Volunteers NEEDED!”  You’re communicating…there is a problem behind these doors.
    • When you make an announcement from the pulpit saying, “we don’t have enough volunteers in our student ministry so please sign up to help today”…you’re communicating we are desperate
    • When you approach someone and say, “No one’s volunteering to be small group leaders around here, would you be interested?” …you’re communicating something is broken in this ministry.

    If we are honest we have to admit that many recruiting efforts in churches are done out of a sense of desperation.  It’s like waving a white flag and asking people, “Please come get on board my sinking ship.”  A person would be out of their mind to join these teams.  

    Take a quick look at a leader who got an enthusiastic “yes” from a group of volunteers in Nehemiah 2.  If anyone had a reason to be skeptical about getting involved it would be the people of Jerusalem.  Their wall had been destroyed years earlier, several attempts to rebuild had failed and they basically had an apathetic attitude.  Now Nehemiah comes along and makes a huge ask…he wants them to get involved in rebuilding the wall. Take note of his words and what he communicated.

    “But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” 18 Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king.  They replied at once, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!”   Nehemiah 2:17-18

    He communicated the need – “Jerusalem lies in ruins”
    He communicated it was a team effort – “let us rebuild”
    He communicated the vision – “rebuild the wall”
    He communicated the cause – “Let’s end this disgrace” 
    He communicated that God is in it – “I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me”

    And he got an enthusiastic “YES”  from a very unlikely crowd.

    Not getting to many volunteers lately? Then ask yourself, “What am I communicating through my recruitment efforts?”

    But No One’s Ready to Lead

    Have you ever asked this question: “Have you been able to identify a potential new leader in your small group?”  Only to get this answer: “No, I don’t think anyone’s ready yet.”

    You know it’s funny to me that Jesus always seemed recruit people who weren’t quite ready.  He looked at Matthew, a tax-collector, who everyone despised and said,” Come follow me; I want you on  my team.”  He took a couple of uneducated fishermen and said, “Come follow me, I’ll show you a new way to utilize your fishing skills to impact the souls of men.”

    Jesus took risk on people.  He asked them to take on a role, to get involved, to make an entry level commitment.  He didn’t recruit Matthew, Peter and Andrew and send them out immediately to share the gospel with the world.  Instead he got them on his team and started working with them to take their next steps. 

    If we want to build a strong pipeline of leaders then we must focus on willingness rather than readiness.   When we focus on readiness we have to find a person who already possesses the skills to step in with little to no preparation.   But when we focus on willingness we are looking for a person who is open to getting involved at even a simple level.  Our job then is to help them find their logical next step on their leadership journey. 

    For some it may be hosting small group at their house, for others it may be recording prayer requests for the group or organizing a service project for the group.

    You see the question is not are they ready for leadership?   The question is what’s the next step they can take toward leadership?  If we sit around waiting for people who are ready then we will always have a shortage of leaders.

    Are you focused on readiness or willingness in your recruitment efforts?

    The Most Important Part of Recruiting New Leaders

    When you’re in a rapid growth environment there’s always a temptation to fall into panic-driven-recruitment. 

    Panic-driven-recruitment is ugly.  You recognize it when you see a children’s leader accosting people in the foyer to get them to help in the overcrowded nursery.  You see it when the groups pastor is “doing a sell” on a unsuspecting couple telling them how easy it is to host a small group in their home – “there’s nothing to it.”  You see it when the pastor stands on stage and announces the desperate need for volunteers in the student ministry.  We know it isn’t right, but we all have fallen to the temptation. 

    Let’s revisit the passage we looked at yesterday, Luke 10:1-2.  Jesus told his newly enlisted 72 recruits that the vision was huge.  And he told them they were going to need additional leaders.  But notice he says their role in the recruitment process is to “PRAY”, God’s role was to “SEND”.

    “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers.”  Luke 10:2

    Pay close attention because in that phrase ‘send out” is the most important part of recruiting new leaders.  The Greek word for “send out” is a fascinating word.  It means, To draw out, to lead one forth or away somewhere with a force which he cannot resist.”  In other words as we pray for new leaders God begins to work on the hearts of people and draw them, compel them, call them into leadership. 

    If we do our part and PRAY, God will do his part and SEND.  I love this because Jesus is teaching us Faith-based-recruitment.  Don’t give in to the panic-driven-recruitment looking for warm bodies to fill positions.  Look for people who are being compelled, moved, drawn, those who are wrestling with God’s calling.  Remember we may be the instrument, but God is the moving force.

    Are you trusting in the fact that God is working in the hearts of people around you calling them to serve Him?