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How to find volunteers for your church


Finding volunteers to help keep your church open and able to serve your community can be difficult. But support is out there to help you to not only to recruit new volunteers, but to keep them engaged with your church. Ruth, from St Hilda in Redcar, shares some advice that helped their church attract volunteers. 


Becoming a community hub 

"We’re the Kirkleatham Parish of St Hilda and St Cuthbert. So, we've actually got two churches, but they're very different,” explains Ruth. 

“So, St Cuthbert's is in a small village and it's a Grade I Listed with a Grade I Listed mausoleum that goes with it. St Hilda's [a 1970s building] has always been an unusual church. The first iteration of it was round, so a round vestry with a round church with a round hall... Unfortunately, it was going to cost too much to repair. It was in danger of falling in half.” 

The church was able to fundraise for a new building and three years ago they were able to open the doors to their new church.

"It’s a nice modern sort of eco church that we've doubled up as a community hub, so that we're very front and centre. We're right in the middle of our community on a main road, on a bus route. So, we're very obviously there and we're open seven days a week.” 

But with no paid members of staff, it is the volunteers that are keeping this church open every day and serving their community. 

“Volunteers are everything to us. We wouldn't exist if it weren't for the volunteers,” shares Ruth. 



Creating opportunities for volunteers to serve 

For any church that is looking to recruit volunteers to help, it can be useful to think about the bigger vision for the church and its place in the local community. 

“It's all about knowing where you are, knowing the community that you are in and actively trying to be part of it rather than separate from it,” says Ruth. 

“Yes, you are a church, but you've got the possibility to be so much more than just a church. You can be the centre of your community. You've got a wonderful graveyard, you could have mini beast tours. What about getting people in who want to do family history? There are all of these things you could do and develop.  

“It's about engaging with the community [and asking] 'if you could use this building for something, what would you use it for?’ 

“Talk to your congregation about what you do. Then, widen it – invite people in, put a family day on and say ‘right, look at this space. What would you do with it if you had the opportunity?’ Get everybody's feedback. You never know what little gems might turn up.” 


Finding volunteers 

“Most churches will be within reach of a VDA, so that's a Voluntary Development Agency,” shares Ruth.   

“They offer free advice, free guidance. They can advise you on policies and procedures. If your national [church] body can’t help, they can give you everything that you would need for a good volunteering journey.” 

Volunteer Development Agencies are experts at getting your church set up to help you make the church a safe and enjoyable experience for any volunteer to be a part of. They can also help you with fundraising bids and grant writing, as well as finding new volunteers to help your church. 

One of the easiest, and most obvious, ways to recruit volunteers is to just ask them. 

"One of the grandmas [at the St Hilda’s toddler group] started putting things away after the toddler group and it was a case of saying ‘we really appreciate you doing that for [us]. Would you like to go on a rota and come along and be part of [this]?’ 

“And she comes every week. We did a litter pick for Festival Teesside the week of social action a couple of weeks ago. She came out on one of the litter picks as well.” 

A simple ask has led to someone becoming an engaged volunteer at the church. 

“It's about involving them more... A lot of people just don't know how to go about [getting involved]. So my big thing is always to ask.” 

Inside Redcar St Hilda Church
Chance De Silva


Be open to new ideas 

When you get your community involved you will often find new ways that your church can make a difference in your local area. If your community is already engaged in the idea, they could be more likely to volunteer and help provide support to your church. 

St Hilda’s was the 2023 National Church Awards winner in the volunteer category. The judges were particularly impressed by the care the church showed its volunteers and how St Hilda’s tries to match a volunteer with tasks that they are interested in and good at. 

“[We ask] What do you like doing?” Ruth explains. 

“One of the ladies came to us and said, ‘I used to teach IT. I really like it.’ So, we set up a little IT and job club where she would help people come in. It's all about playing to their strengths, giving them something to feel good about and making sure they have that good journey in volunteering so that they [continue]. Nobody wants to feel like it's a chore.” 

A group of three women stand inside Redcar St Hilda Church with tables of other people behind
Sarah Crossland


Celebrating volunteers 

To keep volunteers engaged with your church, they need to feel valued. 

“How often do we actually sit them down and say, ‘I really appreciate everything that you do?’ asks Ruth. 

“One of the big things [for us] is to make sure that they're not out of pocket for volunteering. So we always offer expenses, we can't make people take them, but it's always an offer there.  

“We also had one big party for everybody and we got it outside catered so that the normal kitchen volunteers didn't have to do anything. We brought the drinks in, we brought the food in, everybody brought a little present... everybody just chose something out of the bag. It was just very much a celebration of, and a thank you for, what everybody had done. 

“Volunteers want to know that they have made a difference. Show them the difference they can make and then thank them for making that difference.” 


For Churches: top tips for your place of worship 

  • Think about all the things that people might be able to help with or skills you are looking for eg write a list of all the tasks that you would welcome support with, or skills you are looking for support from. Local people may really want to support your church and appreciate its role in the community but not wish to attend worship. Could they help with flower arranging, mowing the grass, or aspects of keeping the buildings well maintained? 
  • If you haven’t already, ask your community what they would like to see happen in your church. You can reach out through local flyers, hosting open days or by putting adverts in your local paper. By involving them, your church could become more relevant and accessible for the local community, and they are likely to get more involved. 
  • Get in touch with your local voluntary organsiation. You can find a list here. and find out how they can support your church. Whether that’s helping you with a safeguarding policy or helping you write a fundraising bid for your church, they can be very useful. Make sure to list your church with them, so people looking for volunteer opportunities can contact your church. 
  • Ask people to volunteer. Whether that’s people already attending community groups or putting posts on your church’s social media channels and in your newsletters. You could also post in your local Facebook community groups to help reach more people. 
  • Say thank you. Find ways to let current volunteers know that they are valued and appreciated. Whether that is by throwing them a party, encouraging team socials or making sure there are perks to volunteering, such as free drinks and a meal if they volunteer in your café.