In seven years of working with churches on systems and strategies, I’ve never encountered a leader who said, “You know what…we have TOO MANY volunteers.”

It’s quite the opposite.

Churches need more people to get involved.

Regular sized churches might need a dozen more volunteers.

Mega churches might need 400 new volunteers.

Rural churches, urban churches, traditional churches, modern churches, young churches and old churches all need volunteers.

It’s likely you’ve preached and pleaded and cast all the vision you have.  Maybe you feel like you’ve extended all the invitations you can to all the people in your church.  But still, there’s still opportunity.

Here are five places you can find new volunteers in your church.

#1 – Existing Programs and Ministries

It’s possible your church has all the volunteers it needs, but they are spread too thin across ineffective or outdated ministries that are just getting by.

Let me illustrate.

If you have 21 volunteers spread across 7 ministries, each ministry will have an average of 3 volunteers.

But if you have 21 volunteers spread across three ministries, each ministry will have an average of 7 volunteers.

No new people, but a lot more focus.  The same number of volunteers generates a whole lot more momentum this way.  Not to mention, those volunteers are not as stressed and don’t feel like they are serving alone.

I know it’s hard to cut things, but it’s a stewardship issue.

Your church might be better off with fewer programs and ministries and reallocating your people to the things that are most important.

#2 – Existing Volunteers and their Network of Relationships

Instead of asking your existing volunteers to serve in other places, ask them who they know.

You’ve likely asked all the people you know, but your current volunteers know people in your church that you don’t know.  They have relationships that you don’t have.

In fact, one of the things we teach in this Church Fuel One course on Volunteers is how to teach your volunteers to recruit others to serve with them.  When they shift their thinking a little towards people development and away from task management, you broaden your volunteer base.

Ask people who they know.  Ask them to invest in an apprentice over the next few months.  Ask them to bring new people into their ministry teams.

#3 – Existing Donor Base of Supporters

Another place you can look for new volunteers is in your donor database.

The people who financially support your church have a vested interest in helping you accomplish your mission.

That makes them great candidates for serving.

Not every donor is ready to serve, but there are likely a few that will respond to personal invitations.

Run a report of everyone who has financially contributed to your church in the last 12 months and cross-reference that with people who are serving.  Then schedule a few conversations to say thanks and to ask people to consider serving in an area that makes sense.

#4 – Middle and High School Ministries

This is going to be controversial, but at least consider it.  One of the greatest places you can find volunteers is in your student ministries.  

If you have a middle or high school ministry that meets during your Sunday morning service times, there’s a LOT of great volunteers there.

I’m not suggesting you don’t need best leaders serve in your student ministry.  It’s quite the opposite…you should put your best people here.

But you should at least ask if utilizing people and running a Sunday morning ministry to students is the best thing for the church overall.

Could you move your student ministry away from Sunday morning and free people to serve with children’s ministry or use their gifts elsewhere?

Second, and perhaps more important, by grouping students together in Sunday morning environments, you might prevent them from serving.

Some of the best volunteers in your church are under the age of 18.

A few years ago, we talked to Reggie Joiner, the leader of The ReThink Group and the creator of the Orange strategy.  He told me that one of the most instrumental things for his own children was the opportunity the church gave them to lead and serve.

A serving team, not a small group, might be a bigger faith catalyst for the teenagers in your c

I know that goes against popular opinion, but it’s at least worth considering.  Could you better equip student to follow Jesus by pairing them with caring and committed adults and giving them the opportunity to serve and lead.

Do they need a small group discussion or do they need a place to use their gifts?  Do they need a Sunday School class or do they need to start investing their time in others?

#5 – Find new ways to ask everyone.

For those who feel like you’ve already asked everyone to serve, there might be new ways to say the same thing.  Mix things up and take a new approach.  Here are some ideas.

  • Stop relying on stage announcements and ask people personally.  Make a list of people to ask and invite them to coffee.  Directly ask people to serve.
  • Take three months and make it a church-wide effort.  Not a sermon and an interest table, but a full three-month campaign to get people involved.  We’ve got a step-by-step plan and checklist for you here.
  • Try a ministry fair or large-scale event.  Plan it far enough in advance so every ministry in your church can make it a part of their strategy.

The idea is to break the rhythm of what you normally do and try something different.