The temptation in recruiting leaders is to reduce the ask—to lower the bar—so that we increase the chances of people saying yes. But this can result in the wrong people saying yes for the wrong reasons. In this blog post, we will see that Jesus gives us a better way. The key is not to lower the bar in our recruiting, but rather to raise it.
It never ends. There aren’t even any breaks. Instead, it comes at us with a cruel relentlessness. You know what I am talking about.
We all recruit. We all know we need to recruit. But none of us like to recruit. Actually, we can’t stand it. (Well, I’m sure there is someone out there who enjoys recruiting just like there are people who like okra.)
Perhaps the reason why we are always recruiting is that we experience too much turnover. And perhaps we experience too much turnover because we aren’t recruiting the best way—the right way.
Think about how recruiting is often done in kids ministry: it often feels more like begging and bartering than inviting. In our desperation to fill open slots, we either beg our church as a whole, or we go to people we feel might be more inclined to say “yes,” if we beg them enough. Our pitch often comes across as a guilt trip, which is another reason we don’t like to recruit. Our recruiting feels like we’re trying to coerce people into a toilet-paper-of-the-month multi-level marketing venture. Or, we go a different route and reduce the ask. We know someone committing to teach every week would be best—to build relationships and consistency—but our beggars-can’t-be-choosers posture leads us to settle for less—much less. “Are you breathing and are you willing to commit to whenever February 29th is a Sunday? Great, then sign right here!”
We might get more “yeses” this way, but not all yeses are created equal. Many of those yesses become uncommitted, unreliable leaders who usually drop out the first chance they get, meaning—you guessed it—we need to recruit again.
What if there were a better way? Actually, there is. It’s the way Jesus recruited followers, a way devoid of begging and bartering. It’s a way that does the exact opposite—it almost scares people off. We see it in Luke 14:25-33.
At the beginning of this passage, large crowds were chasing after Jesus. That was exactly what He wanted, right? Wrong. Jesus knew that these people were not following Him for the right reason. They were uncommitted and unreliable. They were superficial. Sound familiar? So what did He do? He gave them every reason not to stay, but rather to leave.
“Want to follow Me? Fine. It will cost you your family (v. 26), your possessions (v. 33), and even your own life (v. 26-27). It will cost you everything. So count the cost now or walk away (v. 28-32). OK, now who needs a pen to sign up?”
Do you see Jesus’ point? Following Him is a high calling. It means something. It’s not for the uncommitted or faint of heart.
The same is true of serving in kids ministry! We aren’t beggars with empty pockets turned inside-out. We don’t recruit from a posture of need, but rather from one of opportunity. We are inviting people to the high calling of partnering with us and parents to shepherd and disciple the next generation. Surely serving in kids ministry takes a sacrifice of time and energy, but only through the depth of that sacrifice are we able to find the depth of reward—kids hearing the gospel, responding to the gospel, being changed by the gospel, and living out the gospel.
My friends, don’t be ashamed of that which Christ is not. Don’t lower the bar that Jesus raised. Recruit the way Jesus did. And when you do, you might just find you will recruit less, and maybe—just maybe—you will miss it.
Brian Dembowczyk is the managing editor for The Gospel Project. He served in local church ministry for over 16 years before coming to Lifeway. Brian earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his family live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.