The Secret Sauce of Volunteer Recruitment and Retention.

How do you recruit and keep great volunteers?

If you have a growing church, no doubt this is a growing concern. At Watermarke, we have grown from around 500 to 5,000 in 5 years. And while that is certainly exciting, it comes with several challenges. Volunteer recruitment and retention is toward the top of the list. During our fastest growing years, keeping up with volunteer needs was an overwhelming task. If you were to look around our church today, however, you would see:

  1. Children’s ministries full of women AND men, most serving weekly, leading small groups and connecting with kids and their parents in meaningful relationships.
  2. Student ministry environments with men and women serving weekly who also attend multiple weekend retreats and summer camps with their students. Many use a portion of their vacation time to be there.
  3. Nearly as many MEN as women serving with children and students.
  4. Both churched and unchurched people helping park cars, seat guests, execute our services, and answer questions.
  5. In some areas, more volunteers than is required. In other areas, a wait-list to serve.
  6. An annual volunteer retention rate well over 90%.

As church leaders (or leaders of any volunteer-dependent organization), we know volunteer recruitment and retention is a top priority. We are always looking for new and innovative ways to capture the hearts of the disengaged while keeping the hearts of those already participating. It’s a challenge. But there is a solution.

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Why Can’t I Let Others Help Me?

It seems everybody in the world made fun of my Atlanta friends and me during the 2014 Snowpocalypse. I can’t blame them. It looked like a snowy scene from The Walking Dead. I can’t imagine how bad an actual zombie invasion will make traffic! Even though I was stuck in the mess for 7 hours myself, I found it funny, too (after I made it home the following day).

After driving for 7 hours, I realized I was not going to make it home. As I began to evaluate my options, sleeping in the car became the most logical choice. In a moment of divine intervention, my wife remembered SHE had just made a friend who lived close to where I was currently stranded. She called and asked one of the weirdest questions of her life – “Can my husband spend the night at your house?” Luckily, I’m a pastor and this family attends our church, so the “don’t you want to help your pastor” ploy was in full effect.

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