Building A Dynamic Team Of Volunteers

From Scarcity to Abundance: Transforming Volunteer Recruitment in Ministry

As we approached the fall, we faced a shortage of volunteers, which was unfortunate given the increasing number of children and teens participating. We did not want to close registration early or turn away families, so we consulted with our pastor. Fortunately, we planned several weekends to make pitches from the pulpit and invited people to open houses and coffee conversations, which successfully yielded new volunteers.

The last-minute scramble for people to serve was a red flag for us. After securing enough volunteers, we stepped back and recognized a shortage of willing participants in our community. The reasons for not serving varied from busyness to not feeling equipped. What was once a concern had grown into a more significant issue.

I know I'm not alone. Conversations with other ministry leaders have confirmed that the task has become even harder. Finding volunteers has been difficult for some parishes due to their core team aging out, people stopping attendance at church, or staff restructuring reducing support. The problem is overwhelming, and if you're facing this situation, you might wonder, "What do I do?" While it might be tempting to give up, consider trying the following strategies first:


Finding people to serve in your ministry can be extremely overwhelming. It's easy to take rejection personally. Whenever you feel like recruiting is an impossible task, it's crucial to bring the problem to God. We must remember that God will provide us with what we need to fulfill His plan. When you bring the recruitment challenge to God, ask for the following:

  • Lord, give me the words to communicate the need and vision.
  • Bless the lives of those within our parish boundaries.
  • Introduce me to the people you are calling to serve.

If possible, pray with others already on the team. If they know people who have been on the fence or have not been asked to serve, pray over those names. Nothing is impossible for our Lord, and the anxiety of not having enough people reduces when our faith increases.


Maybe you don't have enough adults, but you do have teenagers and college students eager to get involved. While peer ministry or young leaders are limited with what they can do now, their potential to transform the ministry landscape is unlimited. At our parish, we've discovered that while the need for adult leaders is great, investing in and mentoring several teens enables them to take any ministry they lead to the next level as adults.

By focusing on the younger generation, we're investing in the future of ministry. We're teaching them responsibility, collaboration, and communication as their faith grows. We allow them to lead in certain areas, even at the risk of failure. If they do make a mistake, it's a teaching moment, showing them that we care about their growth and development.

If you're struggling to find adults for any ministry within the parish, don't hesitate to approach a young person. It might be messy at first, but over time, you'll witness their abilities grow exponentially.


Coming back from the pandemic, many of our children's catechists stepped away. We faced a difficult situation and had to redesign the ministry. To maintain healthy group sizes, we restructured how we ministered to 3rd-5th grade students. We reassigned one leader from each group to Kindergarten-2nd grade, enabling us to maintain a healthy group size.

With fewer leaders in the 3rd-5th grade program, we moved from small groups in rooms to table groups in the gymnasium. While each group had one fewer leader, we united as one large program. This switch allowed us to maintain a safe environment and create the feel of a small group with fewer leaders, preventing burnout and giving us time to focus on recruiting.

When you're short on people, creativity is key. You might need to adjust how often you meet or rethink certain activities, but also consider leveraging your existing volunteers in new roles or changing the environment of your meetings. Consider adjusting the frequency of your gatherings, perhaps meeting weekly for a set period with longer breaks in between to recruit and prepare.

Facing a shortage of ministry leaders is never easy, but it presents an opportunity to develop new skills, try something different, and explore what God can do through your ministry.

In the end, don't let a shortage of ministry leaders deter you from inviting people to serve alongside you. Focus on building the community and culture of your team and keep leaning into God. Just like any challenge we face, God will walk with us through it, and there will be a time when we see the fruits of our hard work and creativity.

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