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7 Keys for Effective Recruitment

Now is one of the best times all year to focus on recruiting. I believe it is one of the most strategic times to recruit for just about everything. Whether it’s our winter conference or spring break conference, summer discipleship projects and mission trips. It’s also a good time to start talking with potential new student leaders and those you would like to consider joining staff next fall. I would encourage you to think through your ministry and consider these seven keys for effective recruitment:

  1. Personal is the most powerful.

I am all for making legit videos to promote opportunities. (No one does it like Resonate, by the way!) You should make effective announcements at your meetings and have a solid social media strategy and attractive websites. However, there is no substitute for someone you know, love, and respect looking across the coffee shop table and saying “Come with me.” No matter how epic your video and website is, don’t settle for anything less than a student leader sitting across the table from the person in their group sharing the vision and making “the ask.” Even if you use discipleship groups in your ministry, I would have the leaders meet one-on-one with each student to share the opportunity and personally help them consider their options.

Challenge your student leaders to not just recruit their disciples, but to “bring” them. “Come with me” is far more powerful than “you should go.” For example encourage small groups to make plans to road trip together to the conference. Send small groups together on the same summer mission trip during the summer. Tell them how much deeper your training and relationships can go if they do these things together.

  1. It’s never too early to start recruiting.

Often, we have discovered that students are already setting up spring break vacations with their family or hall mates or even trying to set up summer internships. By letting students know about the opportunity early in the year it serves them well. They are able to talk with their families and if needed begin to fundraise. When in doubt, start recruiting now!

  1. It’s impossible to give too much information.

When we are recruiting a student to join our Core Team we have the expectations clearly laid out on a piece of paper so there is no confusion. You can find a sample in the appendix of my free ebook. This is a great help for a student who is considering making the commitment to the Core Team. They can take it home and read it over if they still need more time to decide. It also helps if any issues come up then we can refer back to the expectations sheet. This principle applies to just about everything for which you are recruiting. Work hard to give people all the facts in a clear and attractive manner through printed material and websites.

  1. Challenge them, but don’t pressure them.

It’s not enough to simply give them the information. They must be lovingly challenged to take advantage of the opportunity. It’s the role of the discipler to help the student process the value of the opportunity. Our goal is to help give them an eternal perspective and inspire them for how God could use this opportunity in their lives. A common motto in our ministry is “Your twenties are for training.” You can go over some key verses on teachability or the need to “buy up opportunities” to serve and grow (Ephesians 5:15-17). You can encourage them and call out their potential to reproduce and disciple others. I have found it helpful not to ask for a decision until after we had a full discussion over the value of the opportunity.

Ask them key questions that will help them verbalize their need for training and experience. Questions like:

  • What are some of your spiritual goals?
  • What would you like to be true about you by the end of your college experience?
  • What impact do you want to make for advancing the kingdom at the end of college?
  • What do you think are some things you need to continue learning if you are going to grow into the person God wants you to be?
  • What experiences do you think would be helpful for you as you grow in your relationship with Jesus?

If you can coach them along effectively they will see taking advantage of the opportunity as their idea!

There is a place for being straight up, honest, and clear with them about how strategic you see this particular opportunity. When in doubt, take the risk in love! I am challenged by the Apostle Paul’s leadership style described in Acts 20:20: “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.” Don’t hesitate to tell students the truth when they need it. As long as you are not falling into pressuring people, I would encourage your leaders to boldly take risks to challenge students to invest their lives in these eternal things.

  1. Help them problem solve.

Often the reason a student is reluctant to take advantage of an opportunity is money. This is one of the worst reasons to not follow God’s plan for your life! If it’s God’s will, it’s God’s bill! For example if they say they can’t come to the conference because of money you can help them make a list of ideas for raising the needed money. Share ideas and offers to help. Let them know that you will be their first supporter! Tell stories of how the Lord has come through in similar situations for you as you have stepped out in faith.

If someone has hesitation about joining our Core Team because of the time they need to study, you could spend a few weeks discipling them in time management. It’s likely that they are currently wasting many hours that they could be using to get training and reach the campus. Once they are able to see that the amount of time they have is not the issue then the real issues can be addressed. Do they want to pay a price to get further training at this time or not?

If they are hesitant to go on a summer mission because they need a part-time job or internship you can remind them how rare these opportunities come up in your life. Most people have three to four summers at most to invest in such a life changing opportunity. These types of trips are extremely difficult to do with a wife, kids, or a 9-5 job. This is one perk of having a stateside summer discipleship training project in addition to international mission trips. A stateside project enables a student to get a job or internship and still experience the life change of a mission project.

No matter what opportunity you are recruiting for, helping students learn effective ways to communicate with parents is essential. It is wise to start the process of communication as soon as possible. Remind the students that they are adults now and ultimately must follow what Jesus wants them to do with their lives. However, if they feel led to go against their parents wishes this must be done with much wisdom and care to honor their parents in the process. This has been a very  rare occurrence in our ministry that a student and parent can’t agree on something the student believes God wants them to do. Most parents can be reluctantly persuaded if the communication is done with respect and clarity.

  1. Everyone is a recruiter.

In our ministry, if you are discipling someone else it is your job to recruit them to strategic opportunities. We want to equip our student leaders how to have these conversations. They do all the recruiting for everything except for talking with potential staff. If a student leader is discipling someone, we believe that they are the best ones to discern if that person is ready to join the Core Team or what summer mission opportunity to encourage them to take advantage of. It’s a risk and a little more work on the front end to train our students how to have these recruiting conversations, but it helps us staff save time doing interviews or meeting with everyone. It also helps the student leaders feel a sense of ownership for moving those they are working with forward.

  1. Trust the Lord to move in students’ hearts as you pray for them & cast vision.

“It is possible to move men, through God, by prayer alone.” Hudson Taylor

Always bathe your recruitment in faithful and consistent prayer. I have a list of “faith goals” that I pray for daily related to each of our team’s key areas for recruitment. I pray that God will call specific students to specific opportunities. If you are faithful and consistent in praying for those you disciple and the students in your ministry I believe God will often give you more and more success in your recruitment efforts. Bring your staff team and student leaders into the process of prayer for these faith goals also. At the end of the day, our dependance is not in our abilities to communicate and persuade students. Our dependance is in God’s ability to mobilize and motivate students to engage His mission.


What are some practical ways that you can grow in your prayer life during this key season of recruitment?

How can you bring your student leaders into the process of trusting God for momentum towards key ministry objectives?

What is a key opportunity that you need to start recruiting for?

What strategies will you start using to help as many students as possible take advantage of these opportunities?

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