Recruiting Warm Bodies


When I was in retail, we sometimes hired people at Christmas just to have more employee presence on the sales floor. I was in retail when customer service really meant something, so we wanted the customer to always see someone willing to help them. Admittedly, during especially busy times, we often hired people quickly and placed them on the sales floor with little or no training. The term frequently used was we just needed some “warm bodies” to make a statement to our customers.

As I’ve continued to grow in leadership, I have learned the term “warm body” is relative to context.

Let me explain.

Once King David was old and cold. (1 Kings 1) They brought in a young virgin to lay with him and keep him warm.

I’ll be honest, that passage has confused me at times. Knowing the history of King David, I could read this story and think improper thoughts about the arrangement. Before you let your mind wander, we are told King David “knew her not”. This arrangement was for practicality not sexual relations.

That girl was more than a warm body. That girl had a purpose. And, regardless of what you’re thinking, it apparently wasn’t sexual. It was practical. They didn’t have electric blankets back then, so she kept the aging king warm. She wasn’t just a “warm body”. Her purpose was to keep the king alive and well.

I recently heard a ministry leader say he would settle for a “warm body”. It was said in reference to the children’s ministry, which is one of the hardest areas in most churches for which to recruit. When trying to recruit so many volunteers per room, it can be tempting just to settle for the first warm body who volunteers.

I’ll admit though…his statement bothered me. It made me wonder if we need to reconsider our standards in recruiting volunteers.

Many churches would be willing to settle for a “warm body”, just to say they’ve filled the position. I must be honest, I’ve had similar thoughts about our parking lot ministry and in the hallways after church. I want more greeters. I want more people who are a presence when visitors come to church. So, I’ve even thought, “just give me a warm body”. Whether they smile or not, just fill the position.

Sometimes, because of the demands of ministry, we know we need help, so we are willing to settle for any warm body.

But, think about it. That’s not really what we want, is it?

Perhaps I’m unrealistic…maybe I expect too much from people. I’ve been told that before, but I think we need more than just warm bodies. Even in volunteer positions. In fact, may I push the issue a little further. I think we need warm bodies who are passionate about living out their purpose and willing to fill their positions with vigor.

We don’t just need a warm body in our preschool ministry. We need a warm body who loves preschoolers to the glory of God.

We need a warm body in our parking lot who sees their job as critical to a visitors first experience with a church.

We need warm bodies who will share the love of Christ during the week, at the coffee shop and in the work place, just as well as they warm the sanctuary chair on Sunday mornings.

We need warm bodies who will lead small groups and teach Sunday schools that are committed, enthusiastic and well-prepared each week to disciple people to become growing followers of Jesus Christ.

You get my point. We need warm bodies…but not warm bodies who are simply warm bodies.

Who knows? Perhaps if we raise the bar of expectations we will get people who better meet our expectations.

By the way…I’m thinking of retitling our volunteer ministry. Maybe calling it the “Warm Body Coalition”. Or the “Not Just Warm Bodies Team”.

I don’t know…just thinking.

Actually, I think I just confused myself. But, hopefully you’ve already gotten my point.

What do you think?

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8 thoughts on “Recruiting Warm Bodies

  1. So many times I have sat in Teacher's meetings and listened as people spoke about the area they were in. They needed people to work, they needed people to help because there were so many people to teach! When I listened to others, they mentioned they might as well stay where they were, no one else would take it if they left.
    The frustration you speak of is not lost on me! I get it! More than I would like to, I get it. I have often wondered what would happen if people actually trusted God. Trusted Him enough, that when he called them to work in an area, they would go! Allow Him to work through them! Freedom is one of the best things we get from Salvation, why can't we use it?!
    Twitter: bryankr

  2. Recruit! Unconditionally! Recruit Saying Come Serve, It Will Change Your Life!
    Purposefully so, what we want is not always what we get. It is the ideal to have fired up servants with hearts after God, it is what we should ask for, BUT Who God sends also has purpose. God may send a lukewarm person because serving side by side with someone whose compassion is hot for God is very contagious and could be the divine appointment for the shaping of an amazing servant leader. And… leading someone who is a lukewarm volunteer, is likened to digging deeper in God on so many levels of inner personality, as iron always sharpens iron. Been there and done that. Leading lukewarm servants, sharpens your need for God, it dulls your thinking in the ways you are custom to and causes you to reach out for God’s creativity, believing He can and He will make a less than desirable situation, powerful. Where there is lukewarm, God has an opportunity to fire it up! So I would pray Lord send us the volunteers we need according to Your plan, let Your purposes be flowing in the servant ministries of our church and accompany that with the hearts of leaders who are passionate servant heart shapers. Jesus was very creative with Martha, a really great servant, yet her heart was cold in the compassion of what meant most to Him. Jesus shaped her and I am pretty sure Martha became a Mary. I know… I am one of those Reformed Marthas!
    Twitter: kmac4him

  3. I agree. I've been in a couple church "small groups" where it was apparent that the "leaders" were warm body recruits. The groups didn't work out, which wasn't surprising.

  4. Yes, I heard someone speak this about children’s ministry,”If you don’t feel called to work here then we don’t want you here.” I believe he is right, at least for that ministry (that’s all I know). It is evident who is there, because they want to be there and who doesn’t. We are disservicing the people we are intending to serve by using a warm body versus someone who feels called. Although, of course sometimes people have to try things out to see if they would like it. That should be done side by side next to a seasoned helper not throwing them in by themselves.

    In addition, people with the gift of service don’t mind parking lot jobs, etc. because their joy is simply to serve. Did I make sense?