How to Recruit Group Members to Step Up & Lead

Last week one of the persons who follows this blog sent me the following message. It came on the heels of a post I’d written on why it’s good to organize your Bible study group. It obviously touched on something that Linda and her husband care about. Here in her own words was her request:

My husband and I are 65 year old teachers of married couples with children through high school age. We do all the duties of class. Over and over I have asked for volunteers, with no response. Please give us ways to get them to accept roles in leadership.

Linda, first let me thank you and your husband for serving the Lord! That’s great that you and he are teaching a group of adults. Second, I think it’s great that you want your people to step up and serve. Here are some things you have control over in your quest to lead your group members to step up and serve:

  1. Pray – Pray for your group members daily, and ask the Lord to mature them to the point they are no loner content to “sit and soak.” The New Testament contains approximately 5 words we translate as “pray.” When Jesus saw a field that was white unto harvest, He used it as a visual aid to help teach his disciples an important lesson about recruiting. “Pray that your Heavenly Father send out more workers” was Jesus solution to the challenge of a shortage of leaders. The word “pray” used here literally means “to beg because of a lack or a need” (the Greek word “deomai.” Does that describe your prayer life when it comes to praying and asking God to provide the leaders your group needs? Also, as you pray, pray for one person for each leadership role you have. When you approach them one-on-one about serving, you can let them know that you have no “plan B” – that you believe they are the person God wants to fill the vacant leadership position.
  2. Set an appointment – An appointment says that something is important. We set appointments for haircuts, doctor visits, and a host of other things. If you want to recruit a person to a leadership role, send them a meeting invitation. You’ll want about an hour to talk through the specifics of the job you want them to assume, including time for their questions about the role. Don’t recruit people before or after your group’s gathering. Set an appointment and do it later.
  3. Recruit people to a specific time period – as you recruit people to a leadership role in the group, always do so for a specific time period (six months, a year, etc). Don’t leave the role “open ended,” or people may think once they have a job, it’s theirs for life.
  4. Clarify the “win” – Pastor and author Andy Stanley once said this is one of the most important things you can do as a leader. Your people need to know what a “win” is, so tell them! He said that if you don’t, they’ll decide for themselves what a win is, and it may or may not be what you have in mind for a particular role. What are we really talking about here? Anyone you recruit to a role must know the basics of what you expect – so provide them a short job description with essential tasks listed for them.
  5. Recruit people to a vision, not just to a job description – It’s important that people have a job description (clarify the win), but don’t recruit them to that alone. Get in the habit of recruiting people to the vision you have for the role you want them to assume. For instance, if you want someone to step up and serve as your group’s record keeper, don’t recruit them to take the role. Instead, recruit them to the vision you have for that role. “I’d like you to be our group’s record keeper. You’ll take the role each time we gather, but more importantly, you are going to give me accurate information about who is present each week, and I’ll use that to contact the absentees – we don’t want anyone to feel like they are unimportant, and your accurate records will help us make sure no one slips through the cracks.” See the difference?
  6. Create a culture of service – It takes time, but be sure to talk about the importance of serving. That may lead people to serve within the group, or it may lead them to leave your group in order to serve somewhere else in the church. Make sure your people know it is right and good for them to serve. Talk about this regularly. Celebrate those who step up and serve.

I hope these six practices will help you recruit people more effectively. If you have other ideas that have worked for you in the past, please respond to this post and share them with the rest of us!


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