30 Things You Need to Know to Recruit the Jesus Way


By Jim Wideman
Jim Wideman has been teaching kids and those who teach them for over four decades in the church, as well as at conferences, in books, and by coaching. He likes to think out of the box and that’s why he lives in Tennessee and works at a church in Oklahoma. jimwideman.com

The number one question children’s ministers want to know is:  “How do you recruit workers?” When I need answers, the best place to look is in the Book. Jesus promised to meet all your needs (Philippians 4:19). It was a real game changer for me when I realized that one of the needs I have that He wants to supply is my need to man my ministry. Jesus came to this world to show us how we should live in every area of our lives, even ministry; so, why do we continue to do things that don’t work? Instead, let’s look at what Jesus actually did.

Most church leaders recruit the wrong way.

It’s important for us right up front to understand a couple of things. Bulletin announcements do not work. Neither do verbal announcements. One of the dumbest things children’s folks came up with was requiring people to help; that doesn’t work either. Your pastor shouldn’t have to build your ministry. Also, it’s important that we don’t recruit by duty or need. So if these things don’t work, what does? 


The starting place is found in Matthew 3:13-4:16.

1.    Set the example of obedience and righteousness. Jesus did what He required others to do. He set the standard and He lived it. We must too!

2.    Make it a matter of prayer. Jesus started His ministry with fasting and praying. He prayed on a consistent basis. He prayed for His disciples and with them. The only prayer request He ever gave was to pray that workers would be sent, but I’m convinced we kidmin don’t pray as much as we complain about our need for workers.

3.    He knew the Word and was someone who you could respect and look up to. Jesus was someone worth following. One of my favorite Maxwell teachings is “The law of the lid.” Jesus was the only “10.” We must strive to be more like Him and raise our leadership abilities so that more than 1s and 2s can look up to us.

4.    Realize you need help. You can’t do it all by yourself and leave fruit that remains. If Jesus needed help, and He did for structure sake, we need bunches of it. Doing it all by yourself doesn’t leave fruit that remains. We must allow others to do what we’re doing, so it frees us to do what only we can do. 

5.    Recruit in ones and twos. Jesus did! Don’t get bogged down in the numbers you need to recruit; instead, recruit small so you can put into them. Jesus recruited the twelve over time, not all in one afternoon or in one campaign.

6.    Don’t ask for volunteers—draft them! Jesus was out looking for workers, not waiting for them to come to Him. He looked at people and said, “Come follow Me.” He didn’t ask if they wanted to. 

7.    He told them what was in it for them—the end result or goal. Jesus told Peter He was going to make him a better kind of fisherman, one who fished for men, not just how to find Nemo. The Bible is full of rewards for ministering to kids, so let others know what those rewards are!

8.    He required commitment, not just a sacrifice. Don’t try to make it easy for adults to serve; ask for a commitment. Have a standard of excellence you require and then check people out. (Worker applications, references, and background checks are some of my best friends when it comes to recruiting.)

9.    He selected busy, hard working, successful people. Look for the best. What do people do for a living? What experience do they have? Go after the sharpest, best people in your congregation to work with kids. 

10.  Let them recruit others (John 1:41 & 46). Andrew came from Peter (verse 41). Phillip found Nathanael (verse 46). Don’t do all the recruiting yourself. Train your teachers what you’re looking for by giving them your heart; then, turn them loose to recruit with you.

11. Jesus taught them how to conduct themselves. He taught them servanthood and worked on their attitude before anything else.

12. He dealt with their motives or who they were working for. A great question we can ask ourselves is, “Why do I do the things I do and who do I do them for?” I think it’s important that we in kidmin do everything for Jesus!

13. He taught them about prayer and the power of prayer. Prayer is important; it’s a game changer and difference maker. Jesus knew this and we should learn it!

14. He taught them about priorities and what true riches are. Before someone can be a great servant leader, they have to have their priorities in order. This is also what will cause them to serve over the long haul. 

15. Jesus expected them to bear fruit and be successful. I don’t think this is too much to ask of those who help us. Help them know what needs to be done and how you want things done. Sometimes you have to fire volunteers. I never like this, but pruning makes a difference in ministry, just like it does in gardening.

16. Jesus preached, He taught, and He healed. All three were important.

17. He spent time with His workers. There is no way to give others your heart without spending time with them.

18. He spent time away from His workers (retreat, time alone, prayer). Even convicts get time off.

19. He let them ask questions; in fact, He encouraged them.

20. He gave them authority. If you don’t delegate authority along with responsibility, you’ll never have the team you want to have.

21. He placed them by their giftings and abilities. Provide job descriptions with responsibilities spelled out for all who help you.

22. He let them learn by doing. Training is more than verbal instruction.

23. He taught them what they needed to know. Jesus taught His disciples the whole time He was with them. Then, He directed them by the Holy Spirit after He left the earth.

24. He evaluated and found out how it was going. Keep records, ask questions, and always be in the know about how you can improve your team.

25. He made corrections and coached them.

26. He didn’t spend equal time with all His helpers. You can’t either.

27. He created tiers or levels of leadership.

28. Jesus commissioned His disciples to duplicate themselves in others.

29. He released them to do what He trained them to do.

30.  He committed to never leave them or forget about them, but would help them. Do your volunteers know that you have that commitment to them?

Wow that’s a lot to do! You’re right. But, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s time for you to go … recruit … and train the Jesus way! It works!

Family MinistryRyan Frank