Enlist to a Dream, Not a Job
by Josh Hunt

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Note: this is a chapter form a my book You Can Double Your Class in Two Years or Less, to be released January of 1997 by Group Publishers.

It is the responsibility of those in ministry to recruit those who are not yet in ministry. But how do we do this?

Jesus challenged his disciples taught us how: "Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves." Luke 10:3 It reminds you of the words of Winston Churchill, "I have nothing to offer you but blood, toil, tears and sweat."

How different this is from much of our recruiting. We by telling people that it is not so awful, that it is not that much trouble, that it will not take all that much time. Jesus told them to go because he was sending them out like lambs among wolves. Translation: you are going to be eaten alive.

What did Jesus know about motivating people that we have missed? Often we operate under the assumption that people are motivated toward that which is pleasant and away from that which is painful. If this were true, I would assume that offering people blood, tears and sweat would tend to de-motivate them. Yet, more motivating words were never spoken. Moreover, when Jesus sent the disciples out as sheep among wolves, they actually got out of their chairs and get into the work!

I conclude that people are motivated more by a great cause than by comfort. We want our lives to count for something. We want to make a difference. If it costs us, so be it. If it is painful, so be it. We want to matter. This is what caused the disciples to face the wolves. Jesus had called them to be fishers of men. In the words of Bonhoffer, Jesus bid them come and die. He called them to make a difference. He called them to a vision. We must do the same.

The starting point in recruiting people is to recruit them to a dream--not just a job, a dream. Don't recruit people on the basis that something is not all that much trouble. If you do this, what you will get is not all that much. You get what you ask for. Ask people to lay down their lives for the great and noble task of making planet earth a better place. Ask them to give up their convenience and their time and for a great cause known as the Great Commission. Ask them to go to the mat for something they believe in.

We have the medicine to humanity's illness. At the core of all of society's problems is sin. The human soul has a disease and we have the cure. Contrast the pain in the world with the glory of the Kingdom. Read newspaper articles about how life actually is without God and challenge the group to the effect that this is not God's plan and things can be better. We have the solution to the crime problem, the homeless problem, the drug problem. We have God's solution. The world is acting as expected, but we need to step up to the plate and make a difference on planet earth.

The best recruiting is done individually. It is done face to face or phone to phone. It is done heart to heart. It is not done as a mass announcement from the pulpit, "We need someone somewhere to help with something over there." This almost never works. What works is getting in someone's face and asking, "What are you doing to serve God and the kingdom? Are you offering yourself to God as a living sacrifice? Do you know the thrill of spiritual battle?" This is the way Jesus recruited: person to person; one on one.

The best recruiting starts with the people and moves them toward ministry, not the other way around. We often start with the vacancy on the organizational chart and try to find someone to fill it. Jesus went the other way. He started with the person and said, "Go!" Because we care about people and believe that there is no joy like the joy of spiritual battle, we invite everyone into the game. We start with individuals and move them toward ministry.

The best recruiting is cognizant of spiritual gifts. It recognizes that people are individuals and are wired differently. It allows people to express their uniqueness in their ministries. It recognizes, in addition to spiritual gifts, temperament, background and passion. Rick Warren uses a five part acrostic to help place people in ministry:(1)

S - Spiritual Gifts

H - Heart

A - Abilities

P - Personality

E - Experiences

Rick and Saddleback church place people into ministry according to how God has S.H.A.P.E.D them,. We ought to do the same. At the very lease, we need to teach regularly on spiritual gifts. Anyone who sits in your class for two years or more ought to be able to identify their spiritual gift without hesitating.

The best recruiting gives people specific options. Suppose you are purchasing a Christmas present. What is more helpful to you in that process: a blank order form on which you can write in whatever you want, or a colorful catalogue that gives you a list of choices? Most people respond best when they are given a specific list of choices. In the next chapter, we will explore seven choices for ministry. These are: teacher, class president, inreach leader, outreach leader, hospitality leader, fellowship leader and prayer leader. Most people are able to identify one or two of these choices as matching their giftedness. We then challenge them to use their gifts to help grow their group. I have been guilty, at times, of telling people, "Discover your spiritual gifts and go do something helpful. Find something, anything, to do." But people do better when we show them a list of seven different roles and ask, "Do any of these make sense to you? Would you like to experiment with one of these for a semester?"

The best recruiting allows for the creative, entrepreneurial spirit. Most will respond to one of the seven choices, but some will want to create their own ministry. Someone will want to start a food closet for the homeless. Another will want to form a volleyball league to assimilate outsiders into the body. Yet another wants to volunteer in the music ministry. We need to let people follow their God given creativity.

The best recruiting allows people time to get well. Not everyone is ready for ministry. Some people need to come to the hospital as patients, not as doctors and nurses. Some people have been beat up by the world and need time to recover. They do not need the pressure of someone begging them to help. I have had broken and hurting friends who, when they finally found their way back to church, were told, "Around here, everyone is expected to be a minister. We don't need anyone sitting on the bench. We have enough deadwood. If you are not going to get with it, get lost." That is not a very kind thing to say to people who need to get well.

There is a story in the Bible about Peter's mother in law, who had a fever. As soon as Jesus healed her she "began to wait on them." (Luke 4:39) This is how people are. Once they get well, they will naturally want to help.

The best recruiting allows people to say no. There is a fine line between recruitment and manipulation. There is a fine line between challenging people and controlling people. There is a fine line between inspiring people and making people feel guilty. We must always remember that the gospel is all about grace. Guilt is not the good news. This fine line has to do with recognizing the boundary between me and you. I can invite; you can accept or decline. If you do not have the freedom to accept or decline, it is not an invitation. If you are not free to say no it is slavery, not Christianity. We can invite to the ministry and encourage to the ministry, but we must leave people with a choice. Love always leaves people with a choice.

The best recruiting honors people's time. We have a slogan: one person; one job. In case you hadn't noticed, people are busy these days. Often, people hesitate to do anything at all because they have been in situations where they were taken advantage of. They volunteered to do a little and the leadership demanded more. People would not honor their no. So, they are reluctant to do anything at all. It is far better to get ten people working than to have one person do the work of ten men.

The best recruiting utilizes all the time people have. Sometimes people can handle the work of ten. Let them. Maybe they retired with full salary and benefits at age 55 and they have years of health and vitality to give to God. We need to let them in on the work. We need to show them how they can spend their lives advancing the kingdom rather than hitting a little white ball around a golf course. We need to offer these people part time jobs at the church and pay them a dollar a year, put their names on the stationary and designate them as associate pastors. Let them visit the hospital or take care of administration or start a new ministry or whatever they have the giftedness and passion to do. People will do for God what they would never do for money. We get limited time because we ask for limited time. There are times to ask people for their lives. Jesus did.

The best recruiting cares for the worker and for the work. As in many areas of life, balance is everything. We should care about people. We let allow them time to get well. We honor their nos. But, we should also care about the work. We should care enough to do what Jesus did and recruit people to the work. This is what the fight between Paul and Barnabas was all about. (Acts 15:2) Paul said the work was too important to entrust to quitters. Barnabas argued that John Mark mattered to God, that there was grace, and that he needed someone to believe in him. Paul argued for the importance of the work. Barnabas argued for the importance of the worker. Both were half right.

The best recruiting shows people how. No one wants to try and fail. If we ask people to help, we need to show them exactly what is needed and how they can be successful. Be a skilled coach in their behalf. Here is the process: 1) Let them watch you, 2) Do it together, 3) You watch them, offering coaching and encouragement, 4) They work on their own.

All along the way, you need to give continual feedback, especially positive feedback. Catch them doing something right and then brag to high heaven about it. People need far more carrots than sticks. So dole out corrections in small dosages. Here is how it works.

Suppose you are recruiting a couple to be your hospitality leaders. You want them to give Friday nights to Jesus every other Friday night. Here is the process I would go through:

  • Let them watch you: have them into your home for an informal evening of cards and Diet Coke. Involve a new visitor. Let the couple see the potential. Help them see that this is something they could do.
  • Do it together: have a couple over in their home. You might also want to set up a time they can watch you make the phone call to invite. Explain that you normally invite a couple early in the week and confirm on Thursday and explain that you like to have no more than one or two new couples. Explain the benefits of having another couple from the group over as well.
  • You watch them: they have a couple over again. You come over again, but this time, you take a more passive role. Let them lead the evening. Let them be in charge. You are there for moral support. When the evening is over, tell them how great they are going to do at this and how much you believe in them. Tell them they will make a difference. Look them in the eye and tell them planet earth is going to be more inhabitable because of their ministry.
  • They work on their own. Ultimately, this is the goal of ministry, that people function on their own in ministry. We lead them to use their gifts to grow their group. We are challenge people to take ownership of the ministry. But, people still need to be encouraged. We will forever and always need to tell people, "Well done." A big part of our role is to encourage people in ministry.

This four-step process is considerably more trouble than just telling someone that giving Friday nights to Jesus is a good idea and that someone ought do it. It is also about a million times more effective. In fact, it is the difference between success and failure. The reason we don't have more people in the ministry is because we do not use an effective process for Ensuring their success in ministry.

The best recruiting pays as much attention to the already recruited as it does to the one being recruiting. It takes far more energy to recruit someone to ministry than it does to encourage someone to stay in ministry. It only takes a little energy to keep them going, but it does take some. We need to be constantly saying thank you to the people on our team.

The best recruiting recruits to a team. There is far too much thought of individual effort in ministry. Ministry at its best is done in teams. This important topic is the subject of the next chapter.


1. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1995), p. 370.

 

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