Volunteers....yep...the discussion of the day! It seems many of us are having issues finding them, keeping them, or even just finding the RIGHT ones that connect with our children in KidMin!
We've been blessed with lots of volunteers in our ministry. We have a core group of dedicated individuals that are in it for the long haul...but we also have those that seem to cycle through at a regular rate! So you are NOT alone!
Although I in no way have "the corner on the market"...LOL...I think I have a few things to share that I have learned, am learning, and want to learn! :D
Let's dive in and see how we can help you and your ministry!
First of all...How to FIND the Volunteers! Yes, this can be a problem, especially if you have a small church. But it's not impossible! Many of you are in my Facebook group for KidMin training, so you may have heard me talk about this before. But I'm going to touch on it again, for those that are not in the group.
>> Keep an open mind! <<
It doesn't hurt to have your perfect volunteer prospect in your mind, but don't be so stuck to that that you don't consider others also! Sometimes the best volunteers come from the most unexpected areas. :D
For instance, you may think that young adults are the best ones you could use. After all, they probably have children IN your ministry at this time! But on the other hand, youth can bring in some extra energy, even though they are less mature and closer to the children's age that you are ministering to. AND don't forget about Grandmas and Grandpas! They can bring that extra loving hug that those little one need.
So in your hunt for volunteers, be open to all age groups!
EXAMPLE: Our ministry is for ages 0-11 (split into three rooms). We use ages 12-14 one time per month. They help with puppets, praise singing, music, games, activities, nursery, etc. Ages 15 and up can be full time in Children's Church, or still rotate through as helpers in any of the areas.
So keep your mind open to all ages, and get people excited to help!
Now that you have an open mind to all ages helping, let's talk about how to get them there. First of all, you need to let them know it's a need! Let's face it, most people don't come looking for something to do. You have to ask them! So how can we do that? It's very important to show them the excitement in your ministry.
Here are some ideas:
1. Do an announcement with a puppet behind stage and one current staff outside the stage. Make is fun, exciting, give examples of what you do...ad lib and make it funny. This always draws people in, and you find that some would love to learn to do puppets!
2. Make an exciting handout to have the hostesses give out at the door. OR have children dress up in cute costumes (Bible times, turn of the century, Newsboys ALWAYS goes over well for this!) and hand them out at the door before service. List all the areas that you need help with...even financially! But caution...it seems the day we live in, lots of people would rather give money than time. So be aware of that before putting that on your handout.
Also include testimonies of other volunteers, pictures of the kids doing fun activities, etc. Again...make it exciting, inviting, and a great place to be involved!
3. Run a Family Service! This can be done on a week night or a Sunday morning. The entire church is invited, it is NOT to be promoted as a children's service. Run this service a lot like you run your Children's Church service or special events. Include puppets, games, activities, crowd pleasers, relays, object lessons, experiments, Bible Story, message, altar call/prayer time. Give them the full effect!
You could have handouts at the door that show the areas you need help (like discussed above), and get them excited by watching what you do.
If your church body never sees what's going on, why would they be excited to help?
So get excited and plan some kind of "event" to show what you do, how fun it is, and get them excited to be involved! Have you ever heard of FOMO? The Fear Of Mission Out! Get them to feel that FOMO!! But....one caution...if YOU aren't excited about your ministry, then you won't be able to excite others. So make sure you check your energy level BEFORE trying to convince others. :D
I'm sure there are many other ways to get people interested, so think and plan!
Now that we've discussed finding volunteers, how do you go about keeping them? How do you keep them excited and passionate about the ministry?
Well, first of all, this isn't always easy. There are times that you have someone that does a great job, but after 6 months they decide they are sick of it and want something new. Be prepared for this! It happens, and you can't always do something about it. But on the other hand, if YOU work on your leading and direction, you will find that you can get lots of your volunteers over this hump and help them renew their passion.
Let's talk about some ways, but it won't be the ONLY ways by any means!
You...yes YOU are a key! If you can't keep your passion yourself, how will you be able to keep your staff excited and on fire? So you need to make sure to give yourself the time you need to stay focused and on fire. Some ideas for this: free trainings online, training courses, YouTube videos of other ministers, being a part of an active Facebook group, etc. One way that really helps me...my personality always needs something new and exciting to work towards. So I am continually looking for and thinking of new programs, ideas, activities, etc. to promote and use in our church's KidMin. Right now, I'm on to the Christmas play! :D Find what works to "light your fire" and make sure to keep it lit!
Set Clear Expectations. Your current staff and up-and-coming staff need to be clear on what is expected of them. Any job or event you participate in...if it's not clear what you are to do, you get frustrated. It's the same with KidMin staff. If you are always running around on Sunday morning and have no time talk with and explain, that's when you need to be sure that you are giving them clear instruction BEFORE that morning! I like to have a handout for them to check off the things they would like to be involved in, BEFORE they get started helping. So that is done right away, when they say they are interested in helping. Then, we send out a schedule of activities/service schedule early in the week, so each volunteer can prepare their section and know what they are supposed to do on Sunday. Here's a sample schedule for one of our recent Children's Church services.
3. Stay HANDS OFF as much as possible! When you give your staff a job, let them run with it! Don't make them feel you are watching over their shoulder and always critiquing what they are doing. No one likes that feeling! Of course, there are times that it's necessary to check in with them. But let them try things and learn things without your controlling every step of the way.
4. Hold short mini trainings and staff "meets". What I have found works the best, is if we meet every Sunday morning before we go to our respective rooms. I like to have the nursery workers and all staff from classes ages 0-18 if possible! It helps us to all be on the same page, to know our month's schedule ahead of time, and to just simply do small snippets of training. This is definitely a way to keep them excited and connected with the rest of the staff. Let's face it, when we are off in our own little corner, it's hard to keep passionate about what we doing. It must be a group effort...we are, after all, the Body of Christ! :D
5. Show gratefulness and appreciation! No one enjoys doing something for too long without feeling appreciated. It's not always necessary to do some big event for volunteers. While that is a nice thing to have, just a thank you card, a hug, or a word of gratefulness goes a long way to helping them feel needed! If you don't make them feel needed, they may think they can drop it and let you go it alone.
This is just a SHORT list of all the different things you can do! Hopefully, it's given you some kind of an idea on how to build up that volunteer base in your ministry.
If you aren't already, make sure to head over to my Facebook group for KidMin training and tips. :D Feel free to post and ask questions there. I'd love to discuss some more things! Also, it's always fun to hear your ideas and what's working for you.
Until next time...
In His Service,
Sara Vojtasek & Joel's Vision Ministries