How to Always Get Participants for your Church Programs
An essential aspect of successful programs is having a diverse set of individuals participating each week. It gives the congregation a fresh approach from the perspective of new minds. It reduces the monotony and the predictability that routine programs can bring. It empowers and trains new members in the congregation to learn new roles and exposes them to presentions.
However, getting people to participate can also be one of the most challenging tasks as a leader. Here are five strategies to always get persons to say yes when asked to participate. You might even create your little army of willing volunteers.
Ask in advance
Give each person that you contact adequate time to prepare for their role in your program. Ideally, you should reach out to everyone at least two weeks ahead of time, one month or more for persons who are popular presenters.
Booking in advance is not a guarantee that persons will not cancel at the last minute. Another method to help reduce unwanted cancellations is to give a deadline for withdrawing. Let the participant know that if for any reason they feel that they might not be able to make it, they should cancel before a specific date. After the cancellation date has passed, announce the event details or create posters or with the participants' name included, sealing the deal publicly.
Ask multiple persons
When filling roles in your program, you should reach out to as many people as possible. Initially, you do not have to specify in detail what you want them to do; you can contact participants only to confirm their availability. When you engage many persons, you have options and potential backup participants as a part of your contingency plan for the inevitable last-minute cancellation.
Follow up all requests for participation that get denied with two further requests. Ask for recommendations of other potential replacements as well as ask for their availability for your next program. You can also request that anyone who initially accepts a role but has a need to cancel should seek out their replacement before submitting their intent to withdraw as far as possible.
Be, and sound organised
If you ask for assistance and don't have things together, you may be chasing away potential help. No one wants to be a part of a team without proper leadership. You don't necessarily need to have all the finer details of your plan ironed out. However, you need to know what is missing and where you may need assistance.
It is best if you exude confidence in your communication with your potential participants. Let them feel like they are going to be a cog in a well-oiled machine. State their role and responsibilities and your expectations.
There is an art in asking, make an offer people cannot refuse. Don't just ask for what you want, preface the request with context and possible benefits and the outcome you are trying to achieve.
Whenever someone makes a recommendation for a person to fill a role, ensure that you indicate that they came (highly) recommended, this gives a sense that there is a reputation to be maintained.
Give a vote of confidence without flattering. Let the person know that you value their contribution and believe that they can adequately fulfil their assigned role.
An advanced technique used by negotiators to make requests is to ask for an affirmative "No". "No" is more comfortable to say than yes. Forcing a premature yes will often end up in cancellations. Ask a question where "no" is the right answer. e.g., Will, you be unavailable next week Sunday?
Now let us put all the tips above in a request.
"Hi Sister Smith, the A.Y. department is putting on a careers day on the 15th of next month. We realise that the community's youth are clueless about work opportunities and the skills they need to learn. This state has left many unemployed, hopeless and in poverty. We want to empower them with the knowledge and network they need to succeed. We recognise you as an accomplished professional in your field and a great role model. We have two slots for presentations, and your name came highly recommended to fill one of them. Would it be too much to ask for you to present on the importance of tertiary education?"
If the response is "Yes, I have an appointment for the same date."
"Thanks for your consideration. Is there anyone else that comes to mind who you think would be a suitable replacement?"
Follow up with:
"We plan to engage the youth for the long term, can we call upon you for a future activity?"
I pray that your programs find success as you learn to empower others in your church.