You don’t have enough volunteers in your ministry.
So, for months, you’ve talked about the shortage to anyone who would listen.
And now, you’ve been given a gift.
Your pastor came to you after the last staff meeting and said you would have ten minutes on stage next Sunday morning during the worship service to ask for volunteers.
That’s a gift because you will have more attention from more people in that moment than every other email, tweet, or bulletin announcement could ever get. The stage on Sunday morning is the church’s equivalent of primetime television.
But, what will you say?
I imagine that scenario – or something like it – prompted this question that I came across in a youth ministry Facebook group.
Here’s the question:
One unhelpful response came from a self-admitted “Debbie Downer.”
Here’s what he said:
The reason that answer is unhelpful is because it fails to address the original question. The questioner didn’t ask, “Should I ask for volunteers from stage?” He asked, “How should I ask for volunteers from stage?”
The unhelpful response is correct in what it affirms, namely that personal conversations are the best way to get volunteers for your ministry. However, the person who gave that response failed to understand a simple principle of both/and. He was thinking either/or.
It’s not either stage announcements or personal conversations. It’s both. And here’s what I’ve found to be true: Stage announcements can stimulate interest but they can’t secure involvement.
So, I will answer the question at hand, but also advise that there must be another step beyond the stage announcement if he is actually going to move people from interested to involved.
3 Ways to Ask for Volunteers from the Stage:
1. Cast Vision
To get people to care, you have to start with why. Why does your ministry matter? Why should someone listen to you for the next few minutes? Why should they ignore the text message that comes through while you’re talking? Why should someone give up their time to volunteer in your ministry?
Start with why.
Don’t overload them with abstract statistics about how students are leaving their faith after they graduate. Get 10 students on the stage with you, have 7 of them sit down, and say that’s what’s at stake.
Say something like, “We want to help our students – your kids and grandkids – discover and pursue a faith of their own.”
Help them see the vision and feel the need. It has to become personal or they will make excuses in their minds about how they are. When that voice in their head becomes louder than your voice on the stage, they will tune you out.
2. Highlight a Few Examples
Show them that people who are just like them are making a difference. Look through your camera roll. Find a few pictures of your current volunteers smiling with students. Show them pictures of men and women, old and young.
Don’t overdo it; just a few pictures will do the trick. For each picture, explain who is there and what’s happening.
Those images and explanations will allow you to give people a sneak peek inside your ministry. Many of them don’t know what your students do. They don’t know what happens in the student room. They hear the word “volunteer” and think that they don’t have the time or ability to do it.
Show them that they can do it.
3. Suggest a Next Step
This is where a lot of people mess up. They’ve cast vision and highlighted examples, but they don’t give potential volunteers an action step.
If they’re interested in learning more about volunteering, what do you want them to do next?
Should they fill out a card? If so, make sure they have it in their hand while you’re making your presentation.
Should they send you an email? How about a text message?
If so, make sure you put your email address or cell phone number on the screen or on a card so they have it. Ask them to take out their phone (yes, in church) and email you or text you right then.
Should they go online and fill out a form on your church website? If so, give them the url. An easy way to do that is to set up a Google Form on your church website at a specific url that you create for this moment. Something like [yourchurch].org/servewithstudents would work great.
Whatever you do, give than immediate next action step. If they leave, they’ll get distracted with other things and forget about it.
Then, be sure to tell them what they can expect from you in the next few days as you follow up. Whatever you do, do not drop the ball when it comes to follow-up. Do what you promised them you would do. Communicate with every person who responds to your invitation to volunteer.
Again, you won’t secure their involvement from the stage (that’s what the follow up is for), but you can definitely stimulate their interest if you include these three things:
So that’s the answer to the question about how to ask for volunteers from the stage. There’s no need to get into specifics about roles and requirements when you’re making your presentation. Just talk about the big picture. Capture their hearts. There will be plenty of time to talk about details later.
To summarize, here are the three things you should do when you’re asking for volunteers from the stage:
1. Cast vision.
2. Highlight examples.
3. Suggest a next step.
Do those things, and you’ll have plenty of volunteers signing up for your ministry.
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