Recruiting or Cultivating?
“She just quit, what do we do now?” In First Church, options for volunteers were limited in filling ministry positions. Sunday School teachers or Children’s Ministry staff were hard to come by. This church was utilizing the recruiting method of discipleship, placing a volunteer in a position, then discipled while serving. However, when a position was vacated, it typically created a crisis. The next step was predictable: scouring the list of potential replacements, approaching these people to see which one could be convinced to fill the position, and breathing easy until the cycle was once again repeated. Due to lax discipling, the main requirements for fulfilling any position became availability and willingness. This type of recruiting was not unusual, and unfortunately it had become the norm for First Church.
In contrast, Community Church did not struggle in filling ministry positions. Church members were aware of the needs, had been given the training for potential positions, and had a well-defined description of the expectations and time-table for each possibility. When a volunteer’s term was up, an up-to-date list of highly qualified workers was consulted. Some ministries actually had an assigned rotation so no one was over-burdened.
The descriptions above laid out two very different models for recruitment. Both are methods for managing volunteers for the work of service in making disciples. Recruiting volunteers in a system resembling First Church is born from desperation (Krych, 2006). If the vacated position was not filled immediately, a room full of kids would have no supervision or teaching. The second example, which implemented an environment of cultivating leadership, utilized a well-defined discipling process that helped prepare disciples for ministry in a prayerful and methodical way. By enabling the disciple to deepen his relationship with the Lord, and discover God’s will for his place of service, recruitment was a natural step in that relationship, rather than a high-pressure sales job. The tension between recruitment and cultivation is an artificial creation born of poor discipleship techniques and worldly recruiting tactics, and can be eliminated by adopting biblical principles in cultivating and developing disciples.
Analysis of Contrast between the Two Models
Churches and other non-profit organizations depend on volunteers. How these volunteers are prepared and recruited in each of the two models speaks to their defining philosophies. In the first model, recruitment is the priority. Good potential candidates are approached, with availability possibly outweighing giftedness in terms of qualifications. The volunteer is put on the spot, and with tactics that might include pressuring and inducing guilt, the position will doubtless be filled. However, intentional discipleship along with a good ministry match is crucial in this model, and if this fails, success is doubtful. In addition, there are many in...