One distinct marker of a strong church is strong ministry volunteers. This is especially important in the children’s ministry. A church that is lacking in dedicated, passionate volunteers committed to excellence and care in their children’s ministry will feel this deficit in other areas of ministry as well. The difficulty is that sometimes these rockstar volunteers are hard to come by.
Unfortunately, what usually happens when there is a need for volunteers is an announcement is made at the beginning of the service with a plea for help from the congregation. Some children’s ministers will resort to begging and pleading for people to “step up” and “fill in the gaps.” Or even worse, the church staff will decide that every parent of a child who participates in the children’s ministry must sign up to volunteer in a classroom once a quarter or once a month. The result is each week maybe one-third of the volunteers ministering to the children actually want to be there or even like working with kids! This is not the passion and excellence that our children deserve!
So what do you do when your children’s ministry has outgrown your volunteer numbers?
Believe it or not there are right and wrong ways to recruit volunteers.
- Don’t beg. Nobody wants to sign up for a volunteer role that apparently no one else wants!
- Don’t settle. Please don’t just put a volunteer with our kids who has no desire to work with children or doesn’t know what he or she is doing!
- Don’t guilt trip. We want volunteers serving in our children’s ministry who understand the vision and have a heart for communicating the Gospel to children.
- Do pray with your leadership when you see the need. God knows the need, how many volunteers you actually need and amazingly enough exactly who He is going to send to fill it. He is waiting for you to include Him in the process.
- Do cast vision. The children’s minister needs to cast strong vision into the leaders. It is essential that the leaders be able to clearly share what a privilege and honor it is to pour into children each week the truth of the Gospel. Let them know the “Why” behind your children’s ministry. Leaders need to know with conviction that children’s ministry is not babysitting, but a calling to make an eternal impact on the future of the Church by making disciples. This is what makes people willing to sacrifice their time and energy, when they realize they want to be part of Kingdom work!
- Do share victories. Regularly take time on Sunday mornings or during other weekly services to share with your congregation the stories of children and their families that are receiving Truth weekly and growing as disciples. Give volunteers from your children’s ministry opportunities to share how serving has impacted them and helped spur them on in their faith. These testimonies are the seeds planted in the hearts of your church body that will grow and harvest future volunteers with a passion for investing in children.
- Do encourage your faithful volunteers to tell their friends about their joy in serving. Your best recruiters will be your current volunteers. Recruiting isn’t a one-time-a-year event. It should be a constant process. Challenge your volunteers periodically to invite one friend to come volunteer with them. Ask them to think of one person and begin praying for them and then do the big ask and share the victories the Lord does through that faith building process.
- Do invite. Your volunteers are not the only ones who should be personally inviting people to join the children’s ministry. The impact of a personal invite far outweighs an impersonal blurb in the bulletin or plea from the pulpit. Specifically pray through and approach people the Lord brings to mind. They may not be people who have ever even considered it, but realize they have a heart for it. Many people are waiting to be invited but not assertive enough to just step forward. Also, don’t overlook your middle school and high school students. Obviously adult supervision is always essential, but we want to begin casting vision from our children on up. When they graduate out of the children’s ministry, it is the perfect time to plug them into volunteering. With supervision and mentoring, these young people will begin to understand the joy and community found in serving. These will be your future leaders!
So with some prayer, planning, and purposeful inviting, you are simply a few asks away from increasing your volunteer numbers! Which of these are you going to try this week?