4 Ways To Utilize The Power Of Story In Recruiting, Retaining, & Reigniting Volunteers
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Once upon a time…
These four words are a gateway we have all entered. They lead us into new worlds and fresh experiences. And leaving us with life lessons and a yearning to be part of the story.
It is no secret that humans are hardwired to engage with stories. People have always been fascinated by the lives of others, whether real or fictional.
So what does this mean for ministry leaders and their responsibility to recruit volunteers, retain volunteers and re-ignite a volunteer’s passion for service?
It means that if you want to better engage volunteers and capture potential volunteers’ attention, sharing stories is an essential tool to utilize.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned during my years in ministry is — people are interested in stories about people! It really is that simple. It helps build trust, approachability, and connection. Story draws us in and inspires us. Stories embody the challenges we want to overcome, contributions we want to make, and the influencers we one day hope to be.
Here are a few key factors to consider concerning the power of story in your ministry and the lives of your volunteers:
1. Revel In Stories.
Have you ever sat across the table from a volunteer sipping coffee in a cafe sharing memorable ministry stories? Have you felt the encouragement and excitement that comes with reliving God working through you and your team? The power of story is undeniable. Adopting the practice of story-sharing is beneficial for your community, for instance:
- remembrance of God’s faithfulness
- encourages the weary to persevere
- demonstrates the impact from a volunteer’s investment
Valuing story-sharing begins with the leadership. If the leaders are willing to share their stories and provide outlets for volunteers to share, then the seeds of story-sharing begin to take root in the community’s culture. It begins with leadership valuing the impact of stories, the willingness to share personal stories, and seek out stories from others.
2. Record The Stories.
Stone-stacked altars, life-like statues, detailed commemorative plaques, or string around the finger…we try to remember. Remember important dates, benchmark accomplishments, and life-altering moments. Remembering isn’t passive; it is an action that helps us cling to the power of God working in and through us. As we remember what He has done, it enables us to stop focusing on impossibility and instead focus on the God who does the impossible.
Be intentional to remember your community’s stories. Be organized as you record the pivotal stories. Make it easy on yourself when you revisit the benchmarks. Utilize all mediums of media, as you record — written, audio, video, social media, podcast, YouTube channel, etc.
*IDEA: Consider a remembrance gift for your team, an “end of the year journal or yearbook” with images and stories. This may be a point of celebration for a year of faithfulness or serve to re-ignite your leaders' passion to persevere and continue leading.
3. Retell The Stories.
As your community adopts a story-sharing culture and you collect the stories, your team must become storytellers. Take the stories beyond your community into each person’s sphere of influence. Challenge your team to share stories with others. Nothing compares to the excitement of someone sharing a personal story — something they have lived, something they have felt — these stories have a contagious quality for the listener. When it comes to recruiting new leaders, few tools have more impact than personal stories. Find creative ways to retell your stories:
- corporate settings
- QR code on recruitment postcard which leads them to a video of life-altering stories you have recorded
- challenge your leaders by designating this month as “STORY MONTH” — encouraging them to meet with five people not associated with the ministry to share their personal experiences/stories from your ministry
4. Reveal In The Stories.
Stories have the power to open the listener’s heart to new possibilities. Stories help to reveal the influence a volunteer can make on someone else’s life. These experiences demonstrate the real-life connection that occurs when one invests their time and effort. Stories also reveal the depth of life transformation that numbers cannot quantify. Metrics and assessments may fall short at times when it comes to measuring impact. On the other hand, a story of life change reveals dimensions that can’t be captured any other way. Stories can embody the essence of what it means to serve and lead as a volunteer.
Why wait? Start today. I can help you get started.
Once upon a time, God moved in the life of…
Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:
- What ways have you already been utilizing the power of story in your ministry? What intentional steps can you make to increase the influence of story?
- How can you challenge your team to retell your ministry stories to potential leaders in the next few months?
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