Why I Stopped Recruiting

10 08 2010

Many years ago I came to the realization that recruiting artists (musicians, singers, techs, etc) doesn’t work with traditional methods.  Announcements from the stage, volunteer drives or bulletin blurbs might get me a person or two occasionally but rarely did I get good people out of it.  It was around this time that I realized that artists need more than a simple “we need you.”

This is a highly condensed version of what I teach on why I gave up on recruiting but it will give you an idea of the shift that happened for me in how I grew my teams.  Instead of simply trying to recruit artists I realized that we need to focus on the heart and the desire of artists in order to get them to join and stay with you.  Nearly all artists want 4 things.  They want to be connected to other artists (even introverts need this), feel like their art makes a difference, to contribute to a great cause but with a clearly defined role and time commitment, and to feel loved and like their art is accepted.  These 4 concepts literally changed how I did ministry.

Concept 1 – Create a Community of Artists
Our ministry was like most, we simply asked for the help we needed, did our jobs together and went home feeling good about the work we did.  There is nothing inherently wrong with this, we just never saw the growth we needed to get ahead of the game and do the things we wanted to do.  We had people who were relatively committed to serving in the ministry, but we needed to create a community of artists that would be the ministry.  .  There’s something about the Bible, food and praying together and for one another that really helps create that sense of community.  When I initially made this shift we started meeting as a team 30 minutes before service to have some breakfast and do a short Bible study and pray for one another.  Not a single person scoffed at the idea of being there earlier in the morning and a few people even thanked me before we got started.  We also began doing a short meet up after services to discuss anything that needed to be addressed but mainly so we could pray over our team before they left.  It was this regular, quality interaction as a group that really helped each team grow closer together.  We not only served together but shared life, spiritual lessons and each others burdens.  Each team really became its own community of tech artists doing life together.

Concept 2 – Making a Difference

Artists have a longing within them of wanting to make a difference.  Especially for Christian artists, we have a desire to make a difference for God with our art.  As an arts leader I need to not only encourage artists to serve God with what He gave them, but I should help them see the difference they make in our church.  As leaders we often forget to encourage those serving alongside us with the stories of lives that have changed because of the work we do.  As an arts leader I am incredibly blessed and proud when I hear of a life that was impacted through my art.  All artists, not just leaders need to hear of changed lives whether it’s an email to a Pastor on staff, a baptism service or simply a time of testimony.  Share these wins with your artists as it will provide motivation and inspiration for even better and more impacting art.

Concept #3 – The Cause
When I started to make this shift I called a meeting of our volunteer and staff leaders.  In fact I sent out this meeting notice to all of our team in case someone thought they were or wanted to be a leader and they weren’t on my radar.  After filling them in on the night’s plan, the first thing we did was brainstorm everything that our ministry currently did or wanted to do in the future.  This was a big list and it was awesome to dream, but more importantly it was important for all of our people to know what the whole ministry was already doing and where the whole ministry needed to go.  It wasn’t just about the video people, or the audio or the lighting.  This was the grand vision for the entire team.  Next we discussed what the minimum commitment from every person on the team should be and what staff and leaders had to commit to our volunteers.  This volunteer commitment covered things like expecting to serve once every three weeks, being on time for the production meeting, replacing yourself if you had to cancel, attending occasional full team social gatherings, etc.  The discussion of what should be expected of the leaders included training, effective communication of changes/needs, job descriptions for each position and leaders that aren’t too busy to care for team members.  We then charted out  how many people it would take to fill every role of both our current and future/dream needs if everyone was serving once every three weeks.  With this vision and organization chart nailed down and communicated, our team nearly doubled in size over the course of 2-3 years.  Our people knew what we were about, could see exactly where we were short-handed, could see the job description of the needed spots and could quickly step in.  Also, since the people we already had were fired up and focused many would invite their friends to join their team.  Anytime someone asked about involvement we had this information ready to share and find their fit within our ministry.

Concept #4 – Being Accepted

Artists in general tend to be bad accepting and encouraging each other.  Whether tech or musician, writer or singer, we tend to be judgmental perfectionists who are quicker to point out the faults than we are to encourage, thank and love on each other.  That’s not to say we should simply be simply happy that people show up and tolerate fixable mistakes, but if we want people to learn and grow they must have the grace and encouragement of a leader along with the correction they need to help them get there. If you have someone committed to the cause and vision of your ministry but they feel like they are getting beat up or aren’t good enough, they will not last.  If someone is not working out in a role that’s one thing, but I would much rather see a leader lovingly help them find the role they can fit into instead of coming down on them.  The world is already critical enough of artists.  We should be willing to love and accept artists for the gifts that God has given them regardless if we agree with or enjoy their art.  This is an atmosphere that artists will want to be a part of.




5 responses

11 08 2010
Jonathan Malm

This is a great post, Duke! You verbalized clearly some things that I knew were true but couldn’t put in concrete terms. I’d love to see this in a magazine for technical directors…are there magazines for that? (I’m extremely new to the scene)

11 08 2010
Jonathan Malm

oohh…another thing I just thought of…

when you send out an open call to people in the congregation…usually you get the people with time to spare who want to volunteer. and usually…the people with time to spare have that time because they are not very skilled, not very motivated, or not good at working with people. The busy people are the ones you want…and if you create an atmosphere like the one you’re describing…they will gladly shift priorities to be a part of the team.

11 08 2010
Eric Myers

Dead on Duke. Recruiting can be a major time suck – sorting through dead end responses and having to figure out how to kindly tell 95% of the responses, “maybe we could help you find another area to serve in”. Its the folks that hover arou…nd the booth and seek you out that end up sticking. I also believe if we do things excellently, then the tech ministry is a snowball, it just picks up excellent people. And the opposite is true. If we do things poorly, then the excellent tech artists will stay like our tech booth is the source of a violent stomach flu.

11 08 2010
Anthony Progar


Great post. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences.

26 08 2010
Recruiting « Poll Thursdays « Church Stage Design Ideas

[…] Dejong recently posted an article on his blog about recruitment. (Great article…a definite […]

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