How To Recruit Volunteers to Your Worship Team

I’ve never met a worship leader who doesn’t desire a deep bench of skilled musicians and vocalists to serve on their team. Building any type of ministry takes a lot of hard work and is not for the faint of heart.  Over the past 20 years I’ve had the great privilege of being involved with four church plants.  Having built worship ministries from scratch, I learned many of these principles through much trial and error.  Whether these things come naturally to you or not, effective worship leaders with growing ministries understand the need to develop their skillset as a builder and commit to these things:

Dedicated Prayer – All worship team recruitment starts with prayer. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “I will build my church”.  Jesus does the building, but calls us to do the labor.  He’s the foreman, we’re the workers.  Whereas God already knows what we need even before we ask it, prayer humbles our hearts, declares our dependence on God and reminds us where our help comes from less we try to build a ministry in our own strength.  Matthew 6:25-34 reminds us that abundance and provision flow from being Kingdom Seekers, not Self Seekers. God rushes to provide for ministries that make His glory paramount. Your greatest recruitment efforts start and and end with prayer.

Compelling Vision – Church should never be boring.  No one wants to be a part of anything that’s ho-hum, mediocre or average.  The worship of Jesus Christ ought never to be characterized by such things either.  As the leader in the ministry, it’s your job to cast and communicate a compelling vision that induces FOMO (fear of missing out) in the minds of anyone who hears it.  You have the hand on the thermostat of your ministry and it’s your responsibility to fire it up and to be fired up about it.  Make sure your vision and pitch serves and aligns with your senior pastor and/or leadership team, otherwise you’ll be recruiting people to a small silo, not the big barn.  I encourage the worship leaders I work with to always have ready a 30 second elevator recruitment pitch ready to share with prospective recruits.  Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

I’d love to share with you a little about my calling and vision of what God wants to do through our worship ministry.  In Ephesians 4:12, the apostle Paul talks about how our calling as church leaders is to equip the saints for ministry.  I get so fired up by coming alongside talented people like yourself, playing music and leading worship together and through that, equipping one another to become more like Jesus to serve those in our church community.  

The vision of our worship ministry is to realize and release your full potential not only as a musician but as a Christ-follower.  Every week our worship team has the privilege of leading God’s people and calling down the glory of God.  We get front-row seats to the Spirit’s active work in our church while using our talents to disciple and point people to Jesus.  If any of that resonates with you, I’d love to chat more about how you may have a part to play in what God’s doing through His worship ministry!  Are you interested in talking more?

Man, when I hear that pitch, everything inside me what’s shout out, “Let’s Go!”  Notice that the pitch ends with a direct ask.  Landing the plane with a direct ask honors your listener with clarity of intention and helps you determine if they are indeed interested.  Nothing replaces a direct ask when recruiting.  People can ignore texts, dodge emails, and skirt around shallow-talk.  A confident, direct-ask puts appropriate pressure on prospective volunteers to see if they are interested in being discipled through the ministry you lead.

Take note: Any type of ministry recruitment is hinged on the transfer of enthusiasm.  People who belong in your ministry will reciprocate excitement when hearing your vision and pitch.  Your spirit will testify to theirs and there will be an affirmation and echoing of the same things you’re both called to.  As leader, it’s your responsibility to put lines out in the water and to have your dialed-up pitch ready to present at a moments notice.

Ongoing AvailabilitySo much of your recruitment efforts will be based on your availability.  I am not much of a green room person.  In fact, our Senior Pastor talks about the 30/30 principle and asks for all of our staff to be available out among the people 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after the service.  I love that!  Our ministry is our availability and what better way to recruit then being out among the people, sharing a compelling vision for the ministry you lead.  If you and your team are never accessible, it’s going to be hard to recruit and who wants to be part of a team that postures themselves as exclusive and unreachable anyway?  Make it your goal to be the most accessible ministry department in your church and just watch how God will grow your team.

Measurable Goals – The old adage is true; if you aim for nothing, you will hit it every time.  The easiest was to pour gas on the fires of recruitment is to set measurable goals.  At our multisite church we have six campuses.  I recently rolled out what I call our “9-2-5” recruitment goals for the department.  It’s real simple.  Over nine months we’re asking God to grow our teams by 25%.  We’ve done the math and we purchased a small flip-number chart to keep track of our recruitment efforts.  What I love about these goals is that they unite us together as a team.  Additionally, goals help focus our prayers and give our team members something concrete and crystal clear to shoot for.  Anytime we’re together we talk about it and we give a loud shout and applause to anyone who recruits a volunteer and gets to flip a number back.  As an added incentive I told my team that I’d buy a bag of their favorite coffee beans for the first campus that reaches their “9-2-5” goals.  Goals are the gas in the tank for the journey ahead.  Give yourself and your team something to shoot for.

Inside Out Enrollment – Your best recruits are under your nose and will come from referrals from those already on your team.  No one knows who is musically gifted in your church better than those who are already serving with you.  If you’ve done the hard work of establishing a healthy worship culture where volunteers are recognized, welcomed, accepted and heard you will naturally attract others to your ministry and those who serve in the ministry will naturally want to invite their friends.  Healthy things multiply. In the same light, when a healthy culture exists, those within the culture will become devoted “culture keepers” and will protect the team from potential threats.

Note: Leaders are repeaters.  It takes the average person hearing something seven times before it sinks in.  I often tell the team of worship pastors I lead to be repeating the call for musicians over and over again anytime they’re with their worship teams.  You will be amazed at who comes out of the woodwork as you continually ring the bell with your team.  Cast vision for your current worship team to share the load when it comes to recruiting.  I promise you, they will be your best recruiters and will uncover talent you never knew existed.

Okay, so you have your head around these foundational skillsets but you’re still wrestling with an all-important question: Where do volunteers come from? I’m so glad you asked.  They come from pipelines.  Yup, you heard me correctly, worship volunteers come from pipelines.  Allow me to elaborate.

Pipelines in churches are the conduits through which volunteers come from.  In every church there are three different types of pipelines from which volunteers are sourced:

  1. Dynamic Pipelines
  2. Dormant Pipelines
  3. Developing Pipelines

Dynamic pipelines are ones where water is flowing through them freely.  These are pipelines where volunteers are regularly and readily sourced.  A dynamic pipeline for volunteers at your church may be a robust youth ministry that attracts and platforms young musicians who are later passed onto to adult worship ministry.  Another dynamic pipeline may come in the form of a cattle-call announcement that produces a handful of prospective musicians.  Dynamic pipelines are the existing ponds you fish at where you regularly snag a catch.

Dormant pipelines are ones where water once flowed but are no longer running due to neglect and disrepair.  These pipelines may be clogged due to inattention or perhaps lack a ministry leader who really caused them to flow in a previous season. You won’t find any volunteers in a dormant pipeline but with a little TLC, they can be brought back to life again.  Dormant pipelines are dynamic pipelines in waiting.  The infrastructure is already laid, they just need to be cleaned up and the tap turned back on.  

Developing pipelines are prospective sources of volunteerism but ones where no infrastructure currently exists.  These are pipelines that are completely untapped.  They very well could be developed into dynamic pipelines, but no one has yet built relationships, cast a compelling vision and done the hard work of digging the trenches and laying down the PVC so water can flow freely.

So what pipelines currently exist in your church?  Are they dynamic, dormant, or developing?  Maybe you’ve never taken the time to brainstorm and label the different potential pipelines from which to source volunteers.  Here’s a handful our team came up with:

Young Adults
Small Groups
Children’s Ministry
Men’s/Women’s Ministry
Local Elementary and High Schools 
Local Colleges and Universities (Christian Associations)
After School Programs (Music Lessons, Drama, Production Training)
Cattle Calls
Worship Choirs and other Internal Church Music Programs
Internal Referrals
Para-Church Ministries (Outside Christian Groups that are Connected to the Church)

Depending on your church and the area you live in, you can probably brainstorm even more categories.  Identifying pipelines and their type is a critical step in recruiting for your team.  Thriving ministries with a culture of robust volunteerism have well-maintained, active pipelines that regularly feed the ministry needs of the church.  The only thing more important than pipelines themselves are strong disciple-making leaders feeding them on an ongoing basis.

Now that we understand the skillsets of a ministry builder and value of identifying, restoring and building pipelines, I want to leave you with a challenge in the form of three questions:

  1. What are some creative ways you can exploit existing dynamic pipelines in your church?

  2. What compelling conversations do you need to have to rebuild dormant pipelines in your church?

  3. What specific steps can you take with your team this week to dream up and develop pipelines that don’t yet exist in your church?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s