I can still remember Jim and Lori walking into my office. They had that “deer in the headlight look” on their faces—the one people get when they know you’re about to ask them to do something. And they weren’t wrong.
That was exactly why I’d asked them to come in. I admit that I was nervous myself. I was a new minister at the church, not to mention that I wasn’t even married at the time.
After saying amen to the customary prayer, I simply painted the picture that our young adult ministry needed small group leaders and what it be would like if they said yes. For some reason—call it a nudge from the Holy Spirit—I looked at Jim and simply stated that some of the men could use his help in being a good dad.
I have no clue at the time why I made that appeal, but it worked. I would later discover that this statement was what convinced them to lead the group. He could remember when his children were young and not having anyone to mentor him on how to be a new dad. He needed support. After all, surviving this life takes a village.
Recruiting people to help volunteer in your ministry is one of the toughest things that we do as leaders. I believe there are six ways that we can recruit well, and help others discover their God-given calling in leading a small groups.
I know that this sounds like common sense for those of us in ministry, however, I believe that asking God who we should recruit is important. Prayer should be the first thing we do when we recruit someone to volunteer to lead small groups in our marriage ministry.
In my twenty years of doing ministry and recruiting leaders, I noticed that people love stories, especially stories they can see themselves in.
For Jim, it was the story of how he could help young dads. He saw himself in this story, because he remembered his own experience of having no one to lean on when he was a young father.
Yes, it should be a given that people think that leading a small group is meaningful and important. However, for many of the people that we would like to recruit their time is valuable and they don’t have a lot of time to give.
Therefore, when we go in for the big ask we need to clear on what we’re asking of them. Time is more important than money for a lot of people so making sure that a leader understands that their sacrifice is meaningful in leading a small group is important.
When recruiting your small group leaders, make sure you provide the leader with the proper information that they will need in leading the group. Set these volunteers up to win from the start.
Answer important questions like, “What does a win look like?” and “How should I handle conflict?” Explain exactly how much time they’ll be committing. Let them know how you’ll support them along the way. By setting clear expectations, we prepare volunteer leaders for success.
Every leader wants to rise to their best self. As leaders, it is our job to prepare new recruits with the best training materials that we can find.
In recruiting new leaders, we should provide the recruit with a summary of what materials they will get if they decide to sign up to lead. This could mean in-person trainings, video lessons, or reading material that will equip them to do their job.
6. Walk Away
When a leader says no to volunteering, don’t take it personally. They likely have a good reason for not leading the small group. And we can’t say yes to everything—so don’t burn that relationship for the future.
One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 55:8, God explains how to deal with rejection. Lean on this for patience and empathy as you continue to find the right person to lead small groups in your ministry.
How do you recruit small group leaders in your marriage ministry?
Maina Mwaura is a graduate of Liberty University and New Orleans Theological Seminary. Maina contributes to a number of online publications, including Lifeway, The Gospel Coalition, and ChurchLeaders.com. Maina lives in Atlanta, Ga., with his wife, Tiffany.
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