(Written by Ken Johnson) I once received the compliment, “You are the best recruiter we have ever had.” I honestly was pretty surprised about that statement. I didn’t believe I did anything particularly revolutionary…or do I? As I thought about it, perhaps I do things a little differently. To begin, remember the three R’s of recruiting: Relationships, Right fit, and Rhythm.
Relationship. I always seek to recruit out of relationship. Truly, all of ministry is relationship, but recruiting especially so. I know that in order to have an effective ministry I need to be in relationship with every person who works directly under me. This will vary for each person and each ministry dependent upon size and structure. Large programs (over 200 volunteers) will require leaders to be in relationship with key leaders. Small programs (under 100 volunteers) will allow the leader to be in contact with every person.
In my current setting, my program is just the right size to be able to have an adequate relationship with each person who serves in my ministry. I know each person’s name, family background, and ministry area. For some I even know hobbies, joys, and past experiences. This is invaluable as I seek to either affirm what they are doing or recruit them to move into a new area of ministry. Without that relationship, I am either a voice on the phone or a face up front making an announcement. With that relationship, I am a person who cares about them and their real felt needs.
As my program expands, the direct relationships will be strained. My focus will have to shift from my direct volunteers (i.e. Sunday School teachers) to my immediate volunteers (i.e. service coordinators). These people will then pass on the relationship to those who serve under them. They will be required to know every person in the same capacity I currently do. The relationships that they develop will empower them in recruiting their current volunteers.
This works great for those who already work underneath you, but what do you do when you are seeking to recruit a new volunteer? The key again is relationship. The more you know about the person you are seeking to recruit, the more effective you’ll be. Getting to know that person’s dreams, excitements, joys, family, etc. will help you because then they feel like they are being recruited by a friend, rather than a position or an office. The closer the relationship, the easier it can be to recruit.
Right Fit. The second factor in recruiting is the “Right Fit.” As you recruit the person, always recruit to their strengths. Out of the relationship you have developed with this person, remember what their joys and excitements are. Find a spot that excites them. The more excited they are about what they are doing, the more they will fit into the right spot and the more they will stay for a long time.
One of the biggest fallacies of recruitment is recruiting to the wrong position. Wonderful Christ-like servants will volunteer because of a need but not because they are passionate about what they are doing. They become band-aids for a hole instead of a committed volunteer.
Whenever you recruit have clear expectations and job descriptions so that the volunteer will know what they are getting into prior to getting into it. This will also help to insure the right fit because they’ll know that they are getting into something designed for them that they’ll enjoy.
Rhythm. The final aspect of recruiting is to give the volunteers a good pace to work with as they move into this new ministry. Don’t throw the volunteers to the lions! Whenever I am trying to recruit a new volunteer, I will give them some time to try things out prior to putting them in leadership. This might consist of learning under someone for some time, it might consist of just visiting the program, or it might consist of spending time praying about becoming a volunteer prior to jumping in.
This slow process will help a volunteer to know that they have time to move into the role that they are assuming rather than just being thrown in the first week they say they are interested. This is a very respectful way of recruiting which will help the volunteers to know that they are loved and cared for. The easier the transition, the more likely they are to stick around in the long run and make a real commitment to long-term ministry.
Once you have recruited some key volunteers, do not forget to find ways to sustain their hearts and spirits. Encourage them constantly! Write notes, make phone calls, and remember birthdates. Anything you can do to continue to build the relationship you have with the volunteer will help them to want to stay. They’ll know that they are loved and cared for. The better the volunteer feels about what he or she is doing, the more that person will want to stick around (and even do recruiting for you).
I was once told I was a good recruiter, perhaps that is so. Truly, I am good at building relationships, finding the right spot for the volunteer, slowly working them into the program, and continue to encourage that person in what they are doing. It results in good recruiting because people will want to work in a place where they know that their leader knows them and wants to be with them.
Ken Johnson is currently Director of Children’s Ministries at Campus Bible Church of Fresno, California.
It’s a job description that even Superman might think twice about: executive, counselor, soldier, manager, coach, teacher, legal expert, friend, master of ceremonies and, at times, construction worker and janitor. Who could possibly be expected to do these things as part of a normal routine? The local pastor! Maybe he didn’t bargain for all this. No doubt he feels inadequate. Sometimes he fails. But all of these areas of expertise are indeed part of a pastor’s job.
I once saw a cartoon picturing a small boy looking up at his pastor after church and saying, “What do you do with yourself the other days of the week?” Nearly every pastor would give much the same response: “If only you knew!” A pastor’s weekly routine includes these duties:
Executive. Important decisions must be reached as to church policy on a variety of issues. Sometimes policy is made in conjunction with boards and committees. At other times, decisions must be made on the spot with little time for consultation.
Counselor. Without a doubt, the most sought-after givers of advice and guidance are still the clergy. Pastors, priests and rabbis help millions every year, and usually do so for free. Did I hear something about clergy being mercenary?
Soldier. The Bible speaks of spiritual warfare involving people’s souls and the unseen forces of evil. Foremost in this conflict are often pastors who are regularly expected to be fearless, skillful in combat, slow to retreat. Our weapons are God’s word, persistence and prayer. Our ally, the Holy Spirit.
Manager. Every church, large or small, has a program. Programs can be as simple as the order of the Sunday worship service, or as complex as a full-blown Christian educational system. The pastor is usually a key figure in enabling these church programs to run smoothly.
Coach. Everyone needs someone to motivate and develop the important skills it takes to compete in the game of life. A minister is often one who stands on the sidelines providing pointers and encouragement to improve the individual and advance the team.
Teacher. The Bible is an amazing textbook on the realities of the world around us. It speaks of God and people; choices; attitudes and world-views. It brings a message of reconciliation between God and people through Christ. This supremely beneficial course is offered at your local church without tuition costs. The pastor is to teach this course material in a way that is interesting, relevant and in-depth.
Lawyer. The local clergy can also be counted on to come to the defense of their people in times of trouble. They visit the jails, write letters on parishioners’ behalf and argue the case for the gospel before the jury of the world.
Friend. Your pastor or minister is the one you expect to be concerned for you even when you haven’t been around for awhile. He is the one who will look you in the eye and tell it like it is–in love. He is the one who urges you to become more than you have been and to follow Christ wholeheartedly. It is this role in which the pastor often shines brightest.
Master of Ceremonies. He is the host, the comedian, the one who officiates at important events for you and your family. He must have the charm of the talk show host and the decorum of a head of state.
Oh yes—don’t forget the variety of other jobs which, in some churches, simply go with the position. It is not unusual for the pastor to clean a restroom or two, fold bulletins, work with youth, participate in a construction project and secure the building after services. While there are some exceptions, the Christian ministry is still an honorable profession. It is served, for the most part, by honorable men and women. Now more than ever, with the image of clergy tarnished by a few highly publicized bad apples, it is nice to know that you really can trust that amazing man behind the pulpit!
What is the hardest job in the world? This question is debated in workrooms, taverns and coffee shops around the world. One position which is usually overlooked but which should be considered as a serious contender for the honor is that of pastor’s wife. Living quietly in this world are a small company of women who are married to men in ministry of one type or another. They receive far too little credit for what they do. By the way, there are some men married to women in ministry who deserve some long-overdue recognition as well.
The pastor’s wife: you can often see her after worship, standing with her husband greeting people or sometimes visiting with scattered groups of folks. At other times these women are not seen because they are working in the nursery, recruiting volunteers or counseling privately with someone.
Wives of ministers come in all shapes and sizes: young and not-so-young; vivacious and reserved; creative and methodical, punctual or late; musical and tone-deaf. Some even play the piano. The proven truth is that a minister’s wife can make or break him. Men who survive in ministry almost always do so because their wives are supportive and regarded as an asset by the congregation.
So why do I insist that the job of a pastor’s wife is so hard? There is no labor union exposing the plight of these women; no news expose on the difficult life of a pastor’s wife. These women rarely complain. Most have achieved a level of excellence in which they go about their work with seeming effortlessness. So, most people never give their situation a second thought. That’s where I come in. I am married to a pastor’s wife, so I have special insight into what these dear women often must accomplish (pardon my excursions into exaggeration for effect).
First the pastor’s wife must maintain a level of spirituality at least equal with that of the most spiritual person in the congregation. She must be able to quote scripture with little hesitation on almost any subject. She must never have serious doubts about any article of faith cherished by her husband’s congregation. She must actually pray for the dozens of prayer requests she receives monthly. The ability to walk on water is helpful, but not required.
The pastor’s wife should be in reasonably good shape physically and should maintain a modestly attractive appearance. Her home must be neat and well-organized. Her cooking should be on a gourmet level with at least several dishes which are the favorites at church dinners. She must be cheerful about unexpected guests for dinner. She is to be an excellent manager of family finances, a smart shopper and able to hang pictures tastefully. At the same time she is never to draw attention to herself or her abilities. It is a good idea for Proverbs 31:10-31 to be prominently displayed somewhere in her house.
It goes without saying that she needs to raise near-perfect children. From her they should be learning respect, good manners, cleanliness, theology and perhaps even Hebrew and Greek. She should seriously consider homeschooling in order to ensure that her children are trained properly and not exposed to unduly harmful influences. The children should be able to sing or recite poetry to any group on short notice. They must earn excellent grades, never get in trouble, never bicker among themselves and never show disrespect to neighbors or members of the congregation.
The wife of a pastor often listens patiently to concerns and hurts of several people each week, while sharing her own inner life sparingly (if at all). She should be prepared to forego close friendships in the church for long periods. She should smile a lot. It is indespensible that she should know whose jokes to laugh at and whose humor to blush at. She must be willing to put in many hours of volunteer work in ministry only to have others get much of the credit. She has to be able to take constructive criticism with good humor, humility and a large grain of salt. She should never show anger; always be humble; never gossip. She should have the constitution of an ox, the hide of a rhinoceros and the disposition of a dove. She is to be the servant of all, yet find time to put her own life in perfect harmony—and maintain all of this over a lifetime.
Most importantly, this woman has to live with a very difficult man—the pastor. He is much in demand and often not home in the evenings or on weekends. She must be able to figure him out when he is unsure of himself and quietly support him when he is criticized or attacked. She must also tolerate him when his head is twice its normal size after a particularly good sermon. When he is tired or away, she is to keep the family together without a trace of bitterness.
Though not as extreme as this exaggerated description, the wife of a man in ministry is, without doubt, one tough job! My own marriage to one of these amazing women has given me some inside information on this unsung group of people. I thank God for my wife, Melinda. When she married me, she also married ministry. She is raising four amazing children, while serving alongside me. She is creative, attractive, intelligent, hard-working and the life of the party wherever she goes. Her singing is the envy of angels. I could not have done what I have been privileged to do without her. She makes me look very good. Thank you my dear.
I am confident that I speak for thousands of other men in ministry when I express my thanks to all these dear women who serve with us. As far as I am concerned, they deserve the award for the hardest job in the world!
The following is a brief look at some biblical guidelines with discussion questions aimed at exploring issues related to family involvement in ministry.
Biblical guidance for family life and involvement in ministry:
- Basic information on the marriage relationship (Ephesians 5:22-6:4 / Colossians 3:18-21).
- Pricilla and Aquila as New Testament examples of a married couple in ministry (Acts 18:24-28; Romans 16:3-5a; 1 Corinthians. 16:19; 2 Tim 4:19).
- The issues of married ministry in the context of Paul’s recommendation of singleness as an easier lifestyle in rigorous ministry (1 Corinthians 7:32-35).
- The Christian leader and family relationships (1 Timothy 3:2-5, 8-13).
- The poor examples of Eli and Samuel raising children in ministry (1 Samuel 2:12, 17, 22-25; 8:1-5).
- Does God call both husband and wife to Christian service?
- Does God also call children of Christian servants to be a part of family ministry while they are living with parents?
- In what ways can a spouse enhance the ministry of his/her partner?
- In what ways can a spouse cripple the ministry of his/her partner?
- What are the reasonable minimum expectations Christian people may have for a family who serves them in ministry?
- What sacrifices should ministry families reasonably expect to make for the sake of their ministry and their “flock”?
- What are the reasonable minimum expectations a ministry family may have toward their “flock” concerning their care, upkeep and well-being?
- What are some signals that active, public ministry should be scaled back or temporarily discontinued for the sake of family well-being?
- What types of training do ministry families need for effective long-term service?
- What issues should be discussed in line with what individual family members expect in ministry lifestyle?
- What habits and practices should ministry families develop to show appreciation for church volunteers and faithful members?
- What training and modeling should be provided to develop the practices of forbearance and forgiveness?
- Discuss the issues of rest, renewal and recreation in ministry.
- In what ways should congregations be trained in caring for ministry families?
- Discuss the issues of adequate (generous) salaries for paid staff; respecting staff time off; respecting certain areas of family privacy; allowing those in ministry to be “people in process”.
- What is the role of those in ministry to facilitate or present this training?
This is a ” tongue-in-cheek” list of pastoral duties and character qualities intended to emphasize the huge load carried by many men and women in ministry from across the spectrum of denominations, venues and locations. Hats off to my colleagues who faithfully serve through the ups and downs of ministry life. Obviously some of these points are a bit exaggerated. Reactions are welcome.
1. Preach at least forty-eight Sundays per year. Sermons must regularly touch both the long-standing Christian and the novice. Preaching must always have an evangelistic emphasis and end with an invitation.
2. Monitor and approve all music related to the worship service.
3. Lead worship as needed.
4. Officiate at communion.
5. Meet regularly with the church governing board.
6. Teach a weekly Bible study that is both challenging and practical and yet not controversial.
7. Oversee all church staff. Consult with the board and other key leaders in significant matters relating to church staff.
8. Assure the vitality and growth of the Christian education program.
9. Oversee the development of a relevant and aggressive youth program.
10. Work with families in crisis.
11. Serve as an ex officio member of all boards and committees.
12. Faithfully visit church elderly and shut-ins.
13. Enthusiastically lead the church in missions awareness and participation.
14. Teach effectively and regularly on financial giving.
15. Lead in the formulation and implementation of visionary church goals, while guarding against trendy, worldly or unrealistic ideas.
16. Conduct funeral services for members of the church, their family and close friends as requested. The pastor will contact the bereaved as soon as possible and meet with them prior to the service to finalize arrangements.
17. Conduct weddings, child dedications, baptisms, etc. as requested by church members and their extended networks.
18. Help in the recruitment of board members and other church leaders. The pastor will also train the key leaders of the church in their tasks and regularly motivate them to fulfill their duties faithfully and cheerfully. He is to be an unswerving supporter of the board.
19. Be present at all significant church functions (the pastor is responsible for knowing which functions are significant and which are not).
20. Visit members in the hospital and provide information concerning the status of any member, their extended families or close friends who may be ill.
21. Have a list of potential outside contacts to invite to church as well as a list of potential members among those who have recently visited.
22. Encourage participation in community events which are compatible with the church’s ministry and doctrinal position. Be aware of events which are not in line with church positions.
23. Be an acknowledged Bible scholar, and yet preach and teach simply and straightforwardly with only occasional references to biblical languages and ancient culture.
24. Publish and keep regular office hours, while at the same time maintaining the flexibility to respond at a moment’s notice to crises (real or perceived).
25. Present vacation plans for board approval at least three months in advance.
26. Cheerfully accept almost any annual salary package offered by the budget committee.
27. Effectively raise funds for church projects.
28. Actively participate in church building projects and work days. The pastor must encourage his or her family to do so as well.
29. The pastor must not become discouraged by low attendance at services on the part of the congregation.
30. Be prepared to cancel or rearrange days off as the needs of the flock may dictate.
31. Maintain an exemplary Christian family life.
32. The pastor must never defend himself or his family against criticism or attack, but must prayerfully consider whether any part of the criticism may be valid.
33. Maintain a lifestyle which appears to be modestly affluent, while modeling frugal living for the congregation.
34. Wear the skin of a rhinoceros when it comes to personal attack, but cultivate sensitivity to the beliefs and feelings of others.
This only slightly exaggerated list is actually a fairly accurate description of pastoral life in many small to medium-sized congregations and parachurch ministries in North America. Some would describe it as a recipe for a premature death certificate. What do you think?
* This list contains some ideas from Rest in the Storm: Self care Strategies for Clergy and other Caregivers.