What NOT to Do When Recruiting Volunteers

What NOT to Do When Recruiting Volunteers
April 17, 2018 Meghan Brown


  1.  Don’t call people out during Sunday service. No one likes to be called on in front of a large group, especially at church. If you have the opportunity to ask for volunteers from the stage, then consider having people give a testimonial about the amazing time they had when they volunteered for the previous VBS.
  2.  Don’t ask someone during or within 24 hours of serving on a crazy day of Sunday school, being a chaperone for a field trip, taking kids to a trampoline park, hosting a sleepover for eight 6-year-olds, or spending any time near the Chick-fil-A play area. It’s all about timing. Obviously these people love kids, but give them a breather. Come back to them when they can look back on those moments fondly with the rose-colored glasses of far-off memories.
  3.  Don’t stage a surprise attack. The surprise attack can happen in many forms. You can literally surprise people by jumping out from behind the greenery at church and scaring them into volunteering. Or you can ask them when they least expect it, taking them by surprise and making them feel like they have to say yes.
  4.  Don’t use a guilt trip. This is not the time to call in a favor for that time you dog-sat for your friend Jenny. By all means, ask Jenny to be a part of VBS, but let her know it’s because it’s a great way to help change kids’ lives and have a blast in the process.
  5. Don’t use the kids to ask. Actually, scratch that. Use the kids—how can anyone say no to kids? But defer to #4 (no Oliver Twist moments; have the kids keep it light, positive, and fun)

I know that when it’s getting down to the wire, you’re willing to do anything to fill the spots. After all, you have kids and families counting on you. But instead of resorting to drastic measures, take a deep breath and prayerfully consider who would be great as volunteers and trust that God will provide. This is not just about filling spots; it’s filling the right people in the right spots.

If you think someone would be a great volunteer, approach that person in a way that makes him or her feel valued, and share why you think that person would be a great fit. See how you can do that in under 90 seconds![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

VBS enthusiast Meghan Brown is passionate about all things VBS and sharing God’s love with kids. A native Texan and graduate of Duke University, she loves sports, books you can hold in your hand and spending countless hours pinning things on Pinterest that she’ll never actually do.


  1. Nicki 6 years ago

    Great list, Meghan! I’d like to add, after my recent VBS volunteering experience (or lack thereof), that it is essential to not take on too many volunteers and that those who go through the effort of having their background checks done in order to volunteer be valued (as you stated) by being acknowledged and included in the preparations for the week.
    My church recently had their VBs and while I know the first day can be disorganized, I wasn’t included in the preparations at all and there were 15-20 “extra” volunteers who literally stood around for 3 hours ( yours truly included) because we actually weren’t really needed. Inclusion is everything, or there has to be some sort of cut-off when too many volunteer.

    • Author
      Meghan Brown 6 years ago

      Nicki, thank you for the feedback, you make SUCH a good point! It’s important to right-size your volunteer numbers. We experience that at times when we do our field test and it can be an added stress on the director to find extra jobs. We generally add the extra volunteers to Games and the Snack-making sections as more hands are always welcome in those areas. It can also be helpful for the director to have a list of things that need to be prepped throughout the week that they can put people on each day.

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