Determine What You Are Recruiting For
People need something compelling to be a part of. You may be recruiting potential leaders for a short-term group or a long-term group. But simply asking someone to lead one of those two types of groups does not give them a forceful reason to say yes.
Determine what is so compelling about becoming a small group leader. Rather than recruiting to fill a role, recruit by casting vision for what someone could be and accomplish if they took the opportunity to lead. If you are going to convince them, it's important to have your purpose, goals, and direction for small-group ministry well defined.
Decide How Many Leaders You Need
Set and plan numerical goals. Otherwise, you may not have enough leaders when new groups begin. Numerical goals also keep us motivated and focused on meeting the need for more small groups.
You've probably heard it said that if you aim at nothing, you will hit nothing. Have something to aim for and then go for it! In sales, it may take one hundred "No's" before a salesman hears one "Yes." For this reason, make sure your list of potential leaders is significantly larger than the number of new leaders you need.
Decide When to Recruit
There's a saying when it comes to elections: "Vote early and vote often." It's the same when you are looking for new small-group leaders: recruit early and recruit often. This will likely ensure a positive experience for you and for the new leader. The reason to act early is that the recruiting process takes time; therefore, plan for recruiting to take twice as long as you anticipate.
Also keep in mind that there are times not to recruit. Don't plan big recruiting efforts in December or around busy seasons. Use the events of the busy season to network and build relationships. Get to know people who could become future leaders when it's time to recruit again.
Decide How You Will Approach Potential Leaders
There are several ways you can have a conversation with a potential group leader. The best way is the old fashioned way: face-to-face conversations. Remember, you have to sell the vision of a small-group leader, and it's hard to do that through an email or text. A conversation, whether in person or on the telephone, is the most effective way to communicate.
How do you start the conversation? On the telephone it might sound something like this.
Hello, this is [your name]. Is this a good time to call for a moment? I want to ask if you would consider leading a small group for us for the next [weeks/months]. We have an opportunity to [share the vision for your groups and ministry]. I believe you would be a strong group leader and able to meet the needs of your group members. Would you consider and pray about this opportunity? I will call you back in a week and answer any questions you have.
Then, call back when you say you will. If they say yes to your request, then follow up with a face-to-face meeting. If they say no, be sure to thank them for their consideration and let them know you hope that they will join you in the future.
Retaining the Leaders You Recruit
The final part of recruiting new leaders is retaining them. There are several things you can do in this regard, such as providing care, casting vision frequently, equipping them with resources, and getting feedback regularly.
These things help develop the leader's ownership in your church and small-group ministry. And when you have their ownership, they become more than just leaders. They become ministry partners and allow you more time to recruit!
—Mark Ingmire is the Small Groups and Adult Education Pastor at Savannah Christian Church in Savannah, Georgia.