recruiting is discipleship


This week, I’m preparing a talk I’ll give at our church’s upcoming conference for church leaders. The title is “Volunteers: Proper Care & Feeding (and Finding!).” In other words, it’s about recruitment. Or “mobilization.” Or simply “using volunteers.”

So I thought I’d blog that topic at the same time – it’s usually helpful when my thinking-tracks can line up, and this is certainly a theme I first explored in the world of collegiate ministry.

And while I’ll tend to focus today on recruiting students to our college ministries, this discussion doesn’t stop there – it includes recruiting to leadership teams or volunteer spots within the campus ministry, too.

Recruiting & Discipleship

Here’s something I’ve written in the past:

Recruiting students to your college ministry is a form of disciplemaking! … While we should always beware of missing the point of drawing students in to our ministries, I don’t believe that drawing students in is simply a “necessary secular” that prepares for “real” spiritual ministry later on.

No, from the moment we first meet a student, we should see our engagement with them as all about discipleship. So if we’re urging them to consider attending our ministry – whether having a one-on-one conversation at an organizational fair, or chalking a cleverly-worded advertisement on the sidewalk – we’re engaging in a form of discipleship!

Purposeful Growth = Discipleship

Why do I say that?

Because anytime we’re pointing students toward a resource to help them grow, we’re discipling. If I offer a student memory-verse flip-cards because I think he needs to memorize Scripture more, I’m helping disciple him. If I give him a David Platt book because I want him to learn a more “radical” faith, that’s a form of discipleship.

Again, as I’ve written before:

When I encourage a student to consider our college ministry, I’m simply

  • presenting a spiritual endeavor for them to pursue
  • relating why it’s important and beneficial
  • and urging them to try something that I know (better than they know) could greatly benefit them.

Sounds a lot like what happens when I sit across from a guy at Taco Bell and encourage him to grow in his use of spiritual disciplines, or talk about better wisdom for dating.

The Point

So recruitment is discipleship; it’s connecting students with potential progress in their walk with Christ.

But the point of making this connection isn’t so we can pat ourselves on the back, helping the recruiting we were doing now feel “spiritual” rather than slightly “icky.” (Though I’m happy if you do realize that recruiting isn’t icky!)

The big reason this connection is important is because it then gives us the proper scale for judging our recruitment efforts. If recruiting is discipleship, then we must ask: How well are we doing it AS DISCIPLESHIP? Are we recruiting students – both to join our ministry and then to join efforts within our ministry – using the Best Practices of any disciplemaker? Are our actions full of intentionality, audience-centered, designed for the student’s growth and not just our ministry’s, and so on? Are they prayer-saturated, God-glorifying, and actually doing what they intend – helping a student get closer to Jesus?

On a discipleship scale, how’s your recruitment?

Get started with practical steps in the next post


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