A frequent question youth pastors ask is, “How do I find more volunteers to fill needs on my team?” As a volunteer, I was recently asked to take on some additional responsibility within our youth ministry. Because I was appreciative of the effective way the request was made, I’m sharing this approach with other youth workers in hopes it will help answer that age-old question.

Our high school pastor, Josh, asked me to head up communication to parents and students each week. He already has a variety of tools in place to do this using texting, blogging, and social networking. Josh wants me to manage these, increase our communication’s effectiveness, and find other gadgets to streamline our efforts. It sounds like a big task.

Here are two points of reference Josh had in mind when considering whom to ask:
1. He wanted somebody who is already a big supporter of the ministry.
2. He needed somebody who has experience using these communication tools effectively.

This is the text message he sent to get the conversation started:

“To Dennis the Great Volunteer: I have an idea, and would like to buy you coffee to pich it to you. Later this week good?”

Some aspects of his simple request I found intriguing:

  • It involved Starbucks (which I’m a sucker for).
  • He’s paying (he’s off to a brilliant start).
  • He kissed up to me… He encouraged me as a volunteer.
  • He left me curious to know more (created anticipation).

I’ve been a youth pastor who struggled to find more volunteers. Now I’m a volunteer who’s been asked to fill a need. Because I’ve been on both sides of the issue, I know the difficulty of finding good help and how being asked in the right way makes a request feel more like an honor than a burden. I wish I had used with others what Josh used on me to get me to say yes. It’s definitely been a great learning experience.

What Josh did right to rope me in seal the deal:

  • He lavished praise on me by saying how I was the only one he thought of when this need came to mind. (Even though I knew he was buttering me up, it still felt good that he was making the effort.)
  • He explained the importance of what I would be doing.
  • He talked me through the cool tools that were already in place to help me do the job.
  • He encouraged me to dream up some ideas of how I could implement his ideas.
  • He empowered me to take ownership and move this to the next level.
  • He set up a plan with me to get the project underway.

Dennis Beckner has a volunteer youth worker at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA since 1999. He regularly blogs about youth ministry from a volunteer perspective at VolunteerYouthMinistry.com

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