To be successful to meet our own needs in recruiting small-group leaders who are healthy and able to go the distance, we need to meet their three key needs. We must show them that their role is manageable, one that they are competent to perform, and one that is highly valued.

How much commitment are you asking from your leaders each week? You’ll have more success recruiting and retaining them if you keep expectations at a manageable level. Can you streamline their group preparation time by providing resources for them? Do you ask them to attend meetings to communicate information that could just as easily be communicated in an email? Are your leaders serving in other capacities that drain them of energy for leading their groups? Find out how much time each volunteer has to give in a week, tailor their responsibilities accordingly, and be respectful of the rest of their time that they have allotted to work, play, rest, and family commitments.  Over-committed volunteers are usually short-term volunteers.

There is a good chance that your volunteers will have some initial feelings of inadequacy in their role. Let’s face it: If they felt completely competent, they’d probably have your job. So regularly affirm the competency of each leader through training and coaching. I was a very young man when I accepted my first small-group leadership position. Fortunately, I was mentored by a seasoned pastor and encouraged by a veteran volunteer team. Again, it’s important to maintain respect for each volunteer’s time, so keep training and mentoring within a manageable scope for them.

Finally, it’s absolutely critical that your leaders know that their position is highly valued – and that they are, too. Go out of your way to show that you appreciate what they do. Write notes, send emails and text messages, remember birthdays, throw parties in their honor, celebrate every “win” with them. You wouldn’t be able to do your job without them, so make sure they know you realize that.  Remember that they’re making sacrifices to serve.  Don’t miss an opportunity to recognize them and thank them.

People want to volunteer for leaders who will honor their time, help them feel competent to perform their role well, and value their service to the Lord.  Keep these three keys in mind, and you will be much more successful at recruiting and retaining good volunteer talent for your team.

Now it’s your turn to share. Post your thoughts about the following issues in the comments below, or at my site. I’d love to hear them:

  • What do you do to keep your volunteer workload manageable? How do you tailor it for your individual leaders?
  • What do you do to make sure that your volunteers know they’re competent for their position – or to help them become competent?
  • How do you recognize and appreciate your volunteers for the value that they bring to your ministry?

Looking forward to continuing the conversation….

This article was originally published at

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