Recruiting Maxims For Sunday School
By Wes Haystead
Jesus knew that eager volunteers are scarce “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37).
You may be the most recent Christian leader to regret the same lack; you are unlikely the last. Perhaps the most urgent challenge facing the church’s educational ministries in the twenty-first century is that of enlisting and equipping enough volunteers to carry out the great challenge of reaching and teaching.
Jesus’ statement suggests three important principles.
Recruiting Maxim #1: When seeking to involve people in ministry, focus on the needs in people’s lives, not the needs of your program.
Jesus expressed His concern about workers immediately after He saw crowds of followers “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (v. 36). Their need, not His program, motivated His recruiting concern. Administrators often fall into the trap of allowing organizational needs to motivate their recruiting efforts.
“I’ve got to line up three more teachers before the board meeting next Tuesday.”
“It sure wouldn’t look good for our church to have to shut down that program because of a staffing shortage.”
“If I can just get two more people signed on, it’ll be a big load off my shoulders.”
In contrast, Jesus’ concern was motivated by His compassion for those who needed to be taught and loved.
Recruiting Maxim #2: When seeking to involve people in ministry, ask God to supply the right people.
Jesus gave specific instructions on what to do about a staff shortage: “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (v. 38).
The beginning point of any recruiting effort must be prayer, specifically asking the Lord of the harvest to provide the workers necessary. Since God, as Lord of the harvest, cares greatly about those who need to be reached and taught, this is not a request He will regard lightly. When asking someone to enlist in a spiritual ministry, the whole process must begin from a spiritual foundation.
Recruiting Maxim #3: When seeking to involve people in ministry, help the present workers to succeed. Jesus’ immediate action in recognition of a staff shortage was to send out the workers He had. Matthew records these words of Jesus spoken directly before He called His twelve disciples and instructed them on their ministry (Matthew 10). Luke records the same words as part of Jesus’ instructions to seventy-two other disciples He sent out to nearby towns (Luke 10).
Administrators need to guard against letting a staff shortage get in the way of developing those who have already enlisted. The best way to draw new people into ministry is to equip those already serving so that they succeed in their ministries. Few people will ever want to sign on with a group of people who are struggling and defeated. But people who are accomplishing something worthwhile are powerfully effective in attracting others to get involved.
© 2003 Gospel Publishing House, Springfield, MO. Permission to duplicate for local church use only.
Wes Haystead, author of The 21st Century Sunday School, is also co-author, with his wife Sheryl, of How to Have a Great Sunday School, available from Gospel Publishing House.