Friday, August 19, 2016

Recruiting Strategies Part 1: How to S.T.A.F.F. your Children's Ministry

At my church the back-to-school season is one of the busiest times of the year in Children’s Ministry.  Everyone is done with summer vacation and returning to church.  That means our kid numbers spike, and we have to work hard to make sure our leader numbers are strong. 

If you’re in the same boat we are, that means you’re constantly recruiting.  For us we build teams of core leaders who serve weekly and then fill in the gaps with subs and monthly parent helpers.  Our goal is to always recruit out of vision and not desperation, but the reality is that we do need a certain number of volunteers in the room to open the doors. 

So how do you that?   How do you staff your rooms week in and week out?  I’ll share more specifics in the coming weeks but here are five general principles our team uses to guide our recruiting process.  We use the acronym S.T.A.F.F. to help us remember them. 

1. Start early.
The earlier you start working on leader coverage, the easier it is.  This is one area where you cannot procrastinate.  Starting early gives you time to make contacts and get a response.  If your contacts can’t serve this weekend, you’re going to need extra time to reach out to more people and time to hear back from them.  An early start takes the pressure off and give you time to fill the gaps.

2. Think ahead.
Look at the next month, season and year to identify any weeks you know you’re going to be light on coverage.  Think through school breaks, holidays and special events in your community.  When are leaders likely to be gone?   Has anyone already told you’re they’re going to be out in the weeks or months ahead?  How can you start working now to cover these weekends? 

3. Ask for help.
When it comes to recruiting you only know so many people to call.   That’s why you need to reach out to others and tap into their networks for potential volunteers and substitute leaders.  A few weeks ago, I jumped in to help recruit subs for a campus where I don’t normally serve.  I started by asking campus staff who lead in other departments who they knew.  Then I went to some of our key Children’s leaders and asked for ideas of who might be willing to help.  Don’t shoulder it all yourself.  Reach out to your staff and volunteer teams for ideas.

4. Finish strong.
It’s not enough to make a bunch of contacts for the weekend.  You have to get people across the finish line.   If you’ve sent emails but haven’t heard back from folks, follow up with a text or make a phone call.  The week I was helping recruit subs, I was following up with prospective leaders all the way through Saturday.   Also, make sure that any new leaders or substitute leaders know where to go and what to do.  Send them any curriculum and safety guidelines they need to follow. 

5. Follow up. 
Monday follow-up is one of your best recruiting tools for future Sundays.  Did you have any leaders who didn’t show up without letting you know why?  Reach out to them and find out what happened.   Make sure everything is okay and let them know you missed them.  This could be an opportunity to make a special touch if they were sick or in crisis or just to tell them how critical they are to the ministry.

Also, send thank you cards, texts and emails to any substitute leaders as well as your core leaders who need some extra encouragement this week. 

The S.T.A.F.F. acronym isn’t a recruiting a silver bullet, but it does give you some guiding principles that will help you with leader coverage if you put them into practice.

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