To have enough workers, recruit them to a vision – not a job

We’ve all been there…too many openings in Sunday School leader positions, no one is responding to announcements or mass emails that encourage them to sign up and become leaders.  What’s wrong?

In my experience, it’s the way in which we recruit people to serve as Sunday School teachers and leaders.  There’s no doubt that if you want to enlarge the size of your Sunday School “pyramid,” you need to have a bigger, broader base.  In this case, it’s a bigger, broader base of leaders.  That’s why it’s so important to recruit people the right way.  Years ago I learned the right way to enlist new leaders, and it changed my recruiting practices. If I could share one of the biggest, most effective tips I’ve ever learned about recruiting people, it would be:

Recruit People To A Vision, Not to a Job

People are motivated by a great cause.  If you go to a person and ask them to “teach the 9th grade boy’s class,” that’s the wrong way to present the opportunity.  Instead of recruiting a person to the job of “teaching the 9th grade boy’s class,” recruit them to your vision for what that leadership role is really about.  If you recruit the person to a vision, you’d put it in terms like this:  “You have an opportunity to shape the minds of the next generation of fathers and church leaders.”  That’s very different from “teach the 9th grade boys.”

What about the role of class secretary in an adult class?  It’s an important role, right?  Typically we’d recruit someone by asking them to “take the role” (that’s recruiting to the job, not the vision for the job). In this scenario, the person would simply be a record keeper, checking people’s attendance and turning in the group’s role to someone in the church office. If you’re the teacher recruiting them to the role of class secretary and approach them with a vision for that role, it would make a world of difference in how they view the role and how they respond to the offer to serve.  If I was recruiting a class secretary, I’d present my vision for the role by saying, “I have an opportunity for you to help make certain that no one is overlooked and that all members and guests of our group don’t fall through the cracks; that will also help us keep their children and teenagers from falling through the cracks, too.”  No one likes being the person who falls through the cracks; it’s either happened to us or it’s happened to someone we care about.  Everyone appreciates being ministered to in times of need.  A class secretary keeps vital information about people’s attendance each week, but the real job and vision for the role is for them to help the group leader and other class leaders stay on top of absentees before they turn into chronic absentees – that’s the job – no just checking boxes on an attendance sheet.

The next time you need to recruit someone to a vacant leadership position, don’t make mass announcements.  Don’t put an ad in the church bulletin.  Schedule an appointment, go to the person, and don’t recruit them to a job…recruit them to a vision, and watch how many will say “yes” to an offer to serve.


Follow my blog and receive free weekly posts – all you need is an email address (which I’ll never sell or give away!). Also, pick up a copy of my latest book, Breathing Life Into Sunday School, at It details 12 essentials for improving your church’s most important ministry.


  1. I am a third of the way through “Breathing Life” and have really enjoyed it so far, Ken.

    Also, I’m going to share this post with some of my leaders. You’re absolutely right on how to recruit. Most of the time when you make the announcement that you need a leader it sounds like your desperate, you will take anyone, or that this is a job that no one really wants.

    • Thank you, Ben! Thanks for reading the book. I hope you’ll hear some helpful things, or be affirmed in things you are doing already

      • Both are happening for me!

        I am really grateful for your blog and the content that you are making in regards to Sunday School. Do you know of any other blogs that deal with Sunday School/Minister of Education content like yourself writing regularly?

        • Ben, I hate to say it, but I know of only one: in the links sidebar of my site, go to Sites You May Like and find Daryl Wilson…he is Kentucky’s State SS Director and he has a site.

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