How To Recruit, Train, & Keep Great #KidMin Volunteers [Q&A]
By: Vanderbloemen February 2, 2017
Success in the world of Children’s Ministry rises and falls on your ability to recruit, train, and keep great volunteers engaged in your program. Every ministry needs volunteers, but there may not be a more crucial need than when dealing with children birth thru 5th grade.
A few months ago, we had a wonderful webinar, How To Build & Grow A Stellar Children's Ministry. When we opened up the floor for Q&A, we had a flood of questions - too many to answer during the webinar.
We love providing assistance and equipping churches as much as we can, so we couldn't let all those extra questions do unanswered. Perhaps your Children's Ministry has faced some of these same challenges or you've had some of these same questions.
Check out our Part 1 of our #KidMin Q&A first, then read on to these questions pertaining to volunteers. I certainly hope some of these answers help as you continue the calling to minister to kids and families.
1. "How often do you ask people to serve? Every week, every other week, etc.?"
This is the age-old debate and one that certainly is more opinion than proven. The serving every week vs. bi-weekly models have both been hugely successful, and each has its drawbacks. I tend to fall into the every week model with an emphasis on church attendance for several reasons:
- The more consistency kids have in the small group setting, the stronger the ministry potential.
- These aren’t just “kids workers,” these are people that you, as the Children's Pastor, are ministering to and doing life with. The more consistent they are, the deeper the relationship becomes.
- The every week model leaves no question as to the schedule.
2. "Do you have any unique, year-round appreciation ideas for volunteers?"
Here are a few tips that I've practiced in the past that have been effective:
- Handwritten birthday cards
- Monthly "Outstanding Volunteer" awards
- Annual retreats that equip and pour into them
- For more ideas, read our blog post, How To Show Appreciation To Your #KidMin Volunteers Year-Round.
3. "What do you do with a volunteer who isn't on board with your #KidMin mission? Or one who is struggling personally? How do you ask someone to move to another ministry?"
Great question. Asking a volunteer to leave is never easy. It's unfortunate, but don’t let the issues of one volunteer affect the other volunteers or the ministry. They may be a dedicated volunteer (and I know those can be difficult to come by), but you’re creating a healthier environment for both them and the ministry by helping them find an area in which they’ll thrive.
4. "We don’t like to talk about volunteering from the stage; what are other ways to recruit?"
I’m not a fan of recruiting volunteers from the stage myself except for maybe a couple times per year. I’ve found the best form of recruitment is personal and sincere invitations in person to parents or other attendees. There’s so much more potential in looking someone in the eye and asking them to consider stepping into the ministry. I’d make it a practice to have 3-5 sincere conversations per weekend. Some weekends, you’ll strike out, but consistency is key.
5. "Do you invest specific time for your #KidMin leaders or have events to help grow them?"
I’m a huge proponent of frequent training, communication and appreciation for volunteers. Annual retreats are a fabulous way to do all three but not an excuse to refrain from these things the rest of the year. Time allocated to investing in volunteers and doing life with them is critical to keep leaders engaged.
6. "Very few of our volunteers show for the training. How do we help them see the importance of it & actually show up for meetings/training?"
That's a frustrating spot to find yourself in. If I were you, I would perform some honest evaluation and perhaps ask a few trusted volunteer leaders:
- Do these trainings feel like a waste of time?
- Are they fun and engaging?
- Are they too long? Am I valuing their time commitment?
Sometimes less is more. If your volunteers don’t see the value, help them understand why it’s important. For a season, I was holding 30-minute trainings once a month either right before or right after the service. Instead of requiring them to come in another night or give a 2-hour block of time, catch them while they are already there, give them one or two nuggets, pray, and get them on their way. It seemed to work very well when I was a Children's Pastor.