How To Empower Your Children's Ministry Volunteers
Volunteers are at the core of children’s ministry. As much as we would like to compensate them for their hard work, it is often not financially possible. However, we are capable of providing them with the necessary resources, training, and support to help them feel empowered to serve.
Creating and maintaining a healthy and welcoming environment will reduce turnover and make volunteers feel valued.
Here are five steps you should take to effectively lead and empower your volunteers:
1. Schedule All-Volunteer Training Days
Block out a few dates a year on your church calendar to host volunteer training days. Depending on the size of your ministry, these trainings can occur on a quarterly or bi-annual basis. The frequency may vary, but it's critical to schedule in advance so you can mobilize resources and get the word out. While there may be a lot to cover in each training, it shouldn't run longer than four hours; be mindful of taking too much of your volunteers' precious time.
Typically, Saturday mornings are a convenient time for most, but it can vary depending on your ministry. Be sure to invite all volunteers, from those serving in the nursery to those leading the oldest kids in your ministry. Know that not everyone will be available to attend but be excited to serve as many as possible.
2. Show Your Appreciation
On the day of training, take the opportunity to shower your volunteers with appreciation. Treat them to delicious food or desserts and give them small gifts or thoughtful hand written notes. This can sound daunting and potentially costly, but you can make it feasible by planning ahead, including this expense in your yearly budget, and dividing the tasks between your staff. Your volunteers work hard week-to-week, so they deserve your love and care.
3. Introduce the Staff
It can be daunting to volunteer with unfamiliar faces. Many volunteers won't know others on the Children’s Ministry team. These trainings can be a perfect time to get to know the rest of the staff. Schedule time for staff to share a bit about themselves. Perhaps arrange a coffee break where designated staff will be in specific areas to meet volunteers. Design an activity that encourages volunteers to meet one another and explore other children's spaces they may not normally visit. Fostering familiarity will contribute to a stronger overall culture of trust and respect on your team.
4. Reinforce Your Vision
Once the children’s ministry staff is introduced, talk about the vision for your ministry. If it’s possible, have the lead pastor or family pastor teach about the significance of the service and the role the children’s ministry plays in the church as whole. It is also a good idea to have each children’s space leader speak about what they are currently doing in their spaces and what they are gearing up for in the coming months.
Presenting the team, the vision, and the plans for the future will help volunteers feel more connected and understand that they are part of something bigger than themselves.
5. Split Into Small Groups
Have each children’s space leader gather their volunteers and meet in their usual space. Let them have a discussion in a smaller, more comfortable setting. It is helpful for the leader to have a set of questions prepared to start the conversation among the group. For example:
- Why did you feel called to serve in this space?
- What has been one of your biggest challenges while serving here?
- What has been most rewarding about your service?
- What advice would you give to a new volunteer on the team?
The goal is to allow individuals to feel connected to their fellow volunteers and establish a support system. It is also important for the children’s space leader to take note of new ideas and suggestions, along with looking out for any discontent or loss of trust.
Create a supportive culture that celebrates your volunteers for their amazing contributions. With an effective volunteer training, your volunteers will be well-equipped to serve in your children's ministry.
How are you equipping your children’s volunteers to serve? What are some of the unique ways you celebrate your volunteers?