When it comes to finding willing workers for church programs, the next few months may be especially tough, according to Ken Braddy, director of Sunday School for more than 10 years at LifeWay Christian Resources.
“We’re in a post-COVID time as we regather, and many of our churches will need to re-recruit workers and possibly find new workers to replace those who can’t come back,” Braddy said. “It’s a good time to ‘reset the button’ after the virus and respond in a cadence of excellence.”
Braddy hosted the inaugural “Adult Ministry Meetup” webcast from Nashville on Sept. 3, assisted by LifeWay team leader Dwayne McCrary. (Click here to watch the video.)
Braddy shared 12 tips on “finding all the volunteers you will ever need.”
“Of course, we begin with prayer,” he said. “This isn’t just a formula we revert to. When Jesus said to ask God to send workers to the harvest fields, the word He used means ‘beg because of lack or need.’ Our prayer for workers is pleading before the Lord for harvesters.”
Braddy noted congregations should decide on one person for each role.
“Pastors and other leaders ‘stand over’ the flock, so we approach people with the assurance that God has directed us, and they’ve earned our confidence,” he said. “There’s really no ‘Plan B.’”
Braddy suggested churches recruit year-round rather than just late summer.
“God sends new people and the people we have grow,” he explained. “We ought always to be thinking of new people to help us in ministry.”
Braddy said pastors must resist making calls from the pulpit.
“Sometimes pastors ‘cast the net’ in their sermons, but this isn’t the best way,” Braddy noted. “Sometimes people volunteer who may not be the best fit.”
Nominating groups should make an appointment with prospective workers rather than catching them for a moment before or after church activities, he continued.
“We make appointments for oil changes and haircuts, and an appointment with a prospective worker shows we value the position and the person,” Braddy said. “And we should make a follow-up appointment after about a week, after asking potential workers to pray for God’s wisdom.”
Braddy also suggested churches recruit workers with a vision rather than a job description.
“I certainly believe in job descriptions,” he added. “People need to know their assignments. But it’s better to instill a vision. A middle-school boys teacher, for example, might need to hear the long-term goal of making these young men into mature Christian men, husbands and fathers.”
Braddy said all recruitment should be time-specific.
“Most people think we’re recruiting them forever,” he explained. “But not everyone needs to do their jobs forever. I suggest recruiting from August to August, or whatever the church year is, and then talking about the possibility of remaining when the year is ending.”
He noted churches must provide resources to potential workers so they know they’re not alone, answer their questions and overcome their objections.
“Can you name an industry that doesn’t provide training for workers to learn new skills?” Braddy asked rhetorically. “We must be diligent to assure our team that we won’t fail to provide what they need. With leader training, we can tell potential workers that 20 minutes a day will prepare them to lead a small group Bible study.”
Braddy said LifeWay has responded to the “posture to grow” as outlined in Brad Waggoner’s book, “The Shape of Faith to Come.” Waggoner is president and publisher of B&H Publishing in Nashville.
“We have the ‘hard research’ now that mature disciples read the Bible and other Christian literature daily, attend worship weekly and participate in small-group Bible study,” Braddy said. “Our ‘Daily Discipleship Guide’ has five personal Bible studies that class members can use on their own the following week. These are available in three series: Explore the Bible, Bible Studies for Life and The Gospel Project. This kind of personal study is even more valuable in this time of virus separation.”
Braddy teaches LifeWay’s Bible Studies for Life curriculum series weekly at kenbraddy.com.