Last time we talked about The Secret To Getting People to Volunteer and Love It! (So if you missed that one you can check out the link- it’s nonconventional but it’s working!)
I promised we would look at what to do when the slots outnumber the people standing in line to fill them.
First I need to share a story. When my husband and I were Deans at a Bible college we inherited an amazing culture with the Resident Advisor(RA) program. Each year students served as RAs to assist their fellow students by acting as an extension of the Deans dept in each of their respective dorms.
These RAs had to limit their time off campus, confront fellow students on behavioral issues, mediate roomate conflicts, go to leaders meetings and then lead small groups. It was a huge ask that required a lot of extra time. For their efforts they were rewarded with a unit/credit on their transcript and free internet! Wow! Not a lot of compensational reward for all they gave….
And yet each year I was shocked when someone who was not in line to be an RA made an appointment with me to share their hurt that they weren’t on the list.
What a fabulous culture! More people than slots!!
The norm there was that it was an honor to serve. I see this same culture, though rare, in a couple of the churches or organizations I work with. The best ones have feeder programs where it is the norm rather than the exception that people will be engaged.
The culture is that if you are a part of the group there is a next that is available to you. Leaders are developed. Gifts are grown. Dreams are released. Impact is made.
Attitudes are shifted when the culture is such that finding your place is the expected norm.
So, what can you do when there are more slots that people?
1.Check your culture.
- Find out why people are not stepping up to serve – maybe even do a survey. Are they afraid if they step in once they will have to do it forever? Are they not sure where they belong? Do they not know there are needs? Are they unaware of options?
- Just because of the usual 80/20 statistic (where 20% of the people do 80% of the work) is happening, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Complaining or criticizing won’t change the norm.
- Strategize a plan to change the culture.
- Share stories of people who love what they are doing.
- Have a volunteer day where people can see all the options they could choose from to get connected with their church.
2.Pray about the slot/the service being offered.
Maybe God wants you to come to Him about the need. I LOVE it when someone comes to me and asks if they can help out before I even get a chance to start asking around. This has happened multiple times for me and I continue to be thrilled. It certainly builds the secret place you have with God when you pray about something specific and then you find out that He has moved on someone’s heart.
Don’t forget to ask your intercessors to pray into this need as well. They wield a serious amount of sway. God loves it when we pray.
Ask God for creative solutions. Sometimes an area dries up because God is drawing attention to a change that is needed in that area.
3.Ask around but AVOID the beg!
Ye have not because ye ask not. Sometimes leaders avoid asking because they don’t want to come across as begging. This is a good thing, but sometimes the people who would love that slot don’t even know there is one.
A general ask is good, but don’t keep repeating it over and over. Instead go back to step 2 and ask God if there is someone specific that you should shoulder tap. Most people respond better to a personal ask, but again avoid the beg. Manipulation is a possibility here that must be avoided.
4.Consider shutting it down/consolidating?
It is possible that the season for the program you are concerned about is over. What if God has a different plan? What if the children are supposed to be IN the service? What if there is a way to consolidate the small groups into the service? Sometimes thinking outside the box is exactly what God intended. Not always, just sometimes.
On occasion when shutting down something due to lack of volunteers is on the table it allows heroes to step up and step in. They may not have done so if there wasn’t an emergency and they may not be long term, but who knows maybe they will love it after they give it a shot.
Considering shutting something down or consolidating shows you are serious about having the right people in the right place, not just filling slots. If we really mean that we want more for people than from them, then we need to ask ourselves what we are giving them not what we can get from them.
Two more bonus ideas~
- Many churches have adopted the “test drive”. This allows a volunteer to ‘try before they buy’ in. They can serve for a time or two, maybe even just shadowing a volunteer and see if it feels like something they could do. Talk it over and let them love it or move on to try something else.
- Allow different levels of commitment. When people feel that if they show any interest they will have to serve every week until Jesus comes back it may scare them away. If they know they can serve once a month or every other week, they may be more likely to commit.
Remember, each of us are a part of the body of Christ.
As a leader it’s part of our job to help people find they place of connection.
As a person it’s important for us to find our place and engage.
or talk to Cindy about the Destiny by Design pathway being designed for small group use.