Discovering the Volunteer Pipeline

Three Ways to Discover It

by Brent Colby/ November 6, 2014

Many of us have a hard time accessing the volunteer pool at our churches. I have spent countless hours hosting events to no avail. At times it seemed that nothing was going to work; I would remain short-staffed and frustrated. But over the years I began to recognize that people were more fluid thanfixed. The volunteer pool I sought didn’t exist; it was more like a river. 

Things changed with my volunteers when I began to start early, move forward, and begin with the end in sight. The teams we built looked different than before and the idea of a volunteer pipeline began to take shape. Consider three characteristics of a volunteer pipeline and how they might help you build teams.

The volunteer pipeline starts early. You’re not always going to recruit a veteran. Recruit young students and adults. They bring critical energy and are more willing to be taught. Have expert leaders mentor the new ones as you strengthen your team.

The volunteer pipeline moves forward. Start early and train well. You won’t survive with a bunch of rookies. Your strategy should be equal parts recruiting, training, and motivating. Make the ones you have better and keep the better ones focused on the purpose of your ministry.

The volunteer pipeline begins with an end in sight. There is a big difference between asking too much and asking too long. Have high expectations, but don’t overestimate how long people want to serve. New recruits will quit one day; plan on it. Remember that an open door lets as many people in as it does out.

Start early, move forward, and begin with the end in sight. Each of these ideas will help you build an effective volunteer pipeline in your own church.