This story appeared in the popular series “Chicken Soup for the Soul.Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at Stanford Hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liza who was suffering from a rare and severe disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her five-year-old brother, who had survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother and asked the boy if he would give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, ‘Yes, I’ll do it if it will save Liza.’
As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale, and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, ‘Will I start to die right away?’ Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he would give her all his blood.In this life, we know how hard it is to recruit volunteers. I have often heard people use the analogy; it is like trying to get blood from a turnip. My mission in this post is to give you some important things to consider when attempting to find those high-quality recruits. Often when people talk about these types of issues, they will give you business models. Just to make this more enjoyable. I will show you how Jesus recruited volunteers. Here are four key factors to consider.
How Jesus recruited volunteers.
1. Jesus Lead with Vision.
As he approached the fisherman, Andrew and his brother here is the exchange.
“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:18-19
Notice what Jesus does. He says come with me and join me on a mission that will change the world. What you are doing now is honorable work. It is important, but do you want to come and join me as well announce to the world that the kingdom of God is near? Who wouldn’t throw down their nets and sign up for that opportunity? Do we offer high capacity people the chance to join you on a mission that is so important that they could change the world? Whatever purpose you want people to join you with, make sure you lead with a vision. Be clear where this volunteer effort will result and the impact it can have on the world.
2. Connect to their passion.
“Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John, his brother, in the boat with Zebedee, their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” Matthew 4:20-22
What would make a person leave the family business and poor ole dad in the ship to go off and follow this Rabbi? Jesus connected these men to a compelling vision and their passion. You are already fisherman. Instead of just catching and selling fish what if you could help people connect with the Savior? When you want someone to give something they value – their time – you need to offer them something that awakens a passion. So find out what your volunteers are passionate about before you ask them to volunteer.
3. Be Clear about Expectations.
“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” 1 Corinthians 1:17
Jesus was clear about what his mission was going to do. He was laser-focused. He did not have time to develop a ten-year plan. There were no committees nor focus groups established to discuss the marketing of this vision. Jesus only had a little over three years to hit all the goals God has set for the Messiah to accomplish. So Jesus needed volunteers who were clear about the expectations. You are here to become “fishers of men.” Are you clear about what you expect your volunteers to do? What I see far too often are volunteers who are discouraged because they do not have a clue what is expected of them. When that happens volunteers quit, and they spread the word. Don’t waste your time. They have no idea what they are doing, and you will just get frustrated and waste your time.
4. Make Sure your Volunteers have the needed Training and Resources.
Jesus did not simply recruit volunteers; he also poured into their lives. He instructed them. Jesus equipped them for the mission work. And he gave them the power to accomplish the ministry. See the verses below.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
And with great power, the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. Acts 4:33
Volunteers vs. Disciples
No more dancing around the real issue. We are not recruiting volunteers in the church. Recruiting volunteers imply we are trying to fill an institutional need. We are equipping disciples for the mission. The church is seeking to take on the gates of Hell. Disciples are not called to give a few hours of their free time a couple of weekends every six months. Jesus calls His followers to “take up their cross and follow him.” He says, be ready to face persecution even death. That is not what volunteers sign up for, that is what disciples do. Our mission is critical. Our time is limited. We need quality followers with passion, spiritual gifts and a commitment to see the mission accomplished. Our single work is carrying out the message of salvation to the world that desperately needs to connect with the Risen and Ascended Savior, Jesus Christ. Go and gather that army. Train them. And send them out on the mission.
Other posts in this series: