People are busy! It is hard enough to get people to volunteer, so how can we ask them to serve every week? Weekends are busy with family commitments, or time to relax and sleep in. Volunteering weekly will be the most rewarding for volunteers but how can we get them to understand that?
Have you read The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams? This book has moved into the position of “Top 5 Must Have” books for Kids Ministry. It is LOADED with information.
My friend Dale Hudson is the author of this amazing book. This guy has tons of Kids Ministry Experience and really knows his stuff when it comes to kids, volunteers, recruiting, training and motivating. His blog is loaded with resources and ideas on many different kids ministry related topics. He has a humble spirit and an amazing servant’s heart. I have visited the church many times where he was on staff as the Kids Ministry Director and my kids loved being in the kids program there. He is an international conference speaker and trainer, and I have learned so much from this guy and his experience. He is the author of several kids ministry books, and his most recent, The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams is one of my favourites.
When people sign up to volunteer in our Kids Rooms, we want to equip them with all the info they need to get started, and do their job well. It can be a little overwhelming for a new volunteer to try to remember everything, so we created some booklets for each room that give them the basics to get started.
Sometimes the number of things that need to be done in Kids Ministry can be overwhelming. How do you balance the urgent things with things that should be a priority? So many times the urgent can take a lot of our time, but they are not necessarily things that are a priority. A Kids Ministry To Do List might be just the thing you are looking for. It’s not just any to do list. It’s specifically designed with things in mind that are important for a Kids Ministry Leader.
Sometimes I like to show my volunteers a video clip to illustrate a point. Despicable Me is a great movie that shows an example of Gru doing a not so great job as a dad, and then later, a much better job as a dad. This illustration can be used when it comes to volunteers in Kids Ministry. These two Despicable Me video clips illustrate how volunteers can own their role instead of rent it.
When I think of volunteers, this is the picture that I have in my head. Volunteers are in different stages. Some are new, or come occasionally while others are the committed people that do the majority of the work. As I look at these circles, here are some thoughts on how to find kids ministry leaders:
There are some things that only the leader of a team can do. Bill Hybels talks about the gift of ENERGY that a leader can give to their team & the difference it will make. In this video he talks about going from feeling anxious & overwhelmed to feeling focused and energized on the leadership goals that were in front of him.
If you want things to run smoothly in Kids Ministry, it’s probably a good idea to spend some time training your team of volunteers. However, usually when you mention the word volunteer training, people’s schedules suddenly fill up quickly. Here are some tips that can help you be successful at creating a volunteer training event that people will want to come to:
I went out for lunch with my family after church on Sunday to celebrate the last few days of freedom before school started. While we were eating, I couldn’t help but listen in on the conversation happening at the table next to us. The lady was telling her friend about her experience growing up in a church. The now grandmother age lady recalled a building with hard pews that were uncomfortable to sit in, a pastor who spoke long, and a Sunday morning experience that was extremely boring. The religious experience was all about rules & consequences for breaking the rules. When she was old enough, she decided that she had no interest in this thing called church. The church has a challenge currently facing them. How do we keep kids from leaving church when they are grown up?
Keeping vision in front of volunteers is one of the most important things you will do as a Kids Ministry Leader. Reminding people over and over of why they do what they do. On my most recent trip to Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, I was reminded of something that they do to keep the vision in front of their volunteers. Many of their kids ministry rooms have a picture wall. The pictures are specific to the ministry that happens in that room.
This is one of my favorite Disney pictures. I have it framed and it’s part of my office decor.
Before Walt Disney World in Orlando came to be, it was a bunch of swampland. Walt Disney had a vision of what could be, and he had a big job ahead of him to communicate that vision to his team.
Sometimes in Kids Ministry, I can see the vision of where we are headed, but I need to communicate that vision to my team. I can see the potential in volunteers, in the building & in the kids. Here are some ways to paint the picture of your Kids Ministry, and the vision that you have for the future:
1. Stay Positive – There will be challenges along the way, but don’t let discouragement settle in to get you off track for what God has planned.
2. Stay Focused – Many things could distract you or demand your time. As the leader, you need to stay focused on what lies ahead.
3. Communicate – Do whatever it takes to help people see where you are going. Draw pictures, create vision statements, tell success stories, share the dream, have meetings, and connect with key leaders one-on-one.
4. Be Passionate – Make sure you are fired up & excited about where you are going! If you are not excited about it, how can you expect anyone else to be?
I love looking at this poster on my wall. What reminders help you keep the vision in front of your volunteers?
What do you picture in your head when you hear someone say that they teach Sunday School?
Do you think of a lady standing in front of a class? Do you picture a group of children sitting in a circle listening to someone talk?
Methods of communication have changed over time & there are so many different options available today. Consider the following information that was put together by William Glasser. People remember:
What about the people who ‘teach’ in your children’s ministry? What methods are they using? If they are going to go to all the trouble to teach the lesson, one would think that they would want the kids to remember it. Consider using different methods when teaching children. Here are some ideas:
Video – DVD’s
Teacher narrates while kids act outReading
Listening to different people speak
Small Group Discussion
What other methods of teaching do you include?
Someone once told me that if a millionaire wants to become a billionaire, then they need to spend time hanging out with billionaires.
In order for a millionaire to become a billionaire, they must first learn everything they can from people who are already at the next level. They learn what their goals and priorities are, they learn what their focus is, and how they make decisions. They spend time with them, watching them, observing them, & seeing them in action.
If you want to become a better Kids Ministry Leader, then you need to spend time with people who are doing kids ministry at a higher level than you are. What makes them a next level leader?
Here’s what to look for:
– they have a similar ministry to you, but have more responsibility
– they are from a church that is larger than yours (and their kids ministry is larger)
– they have more experience than you do
Once you find a next level leader, you need to connect with them, and spend time with them and learn from them.
Here are some suggestions:
– Go for coffee with a next level kids leader who is in your area. Have a list of questions prepared that you can ask them about how they lead.
– Go visit a church on a Sunday morning to see their kids ministry in action. Walk around with them & observe them as they connect with their volunteers. Visit their office. What do you notice?
– Take a team of volunteers with you to go visit a church that does a great job doing kids ministry
– If you don’t have a church in your area, is there one within a day’s drive that you can go visit? (I have driven 8-10 hours just to go visit churches)
– Find a next level leader online & connect with them. CMconnect.org is a great place to start.
Are you striving to improve how you lead? If you are, then you should be hanging out with next level leaders, and in time, you will become like them.
This is one of my favourite books. Creating Magic. It’s a book about leadership. It’s all about people. Here’s a quote from the inside cover,
“It’s not the magic that makes it work, it’s the way we work that makes the magic.”
Leading a team is part of being a leader in kids ministry. Lee Cockerell outlines some lessons that can help us as we lead a kids ministry team.
Every time I go to Walt Disney World I notice how welcome they make you feel. Everything from greeting you when you arrive at Magical Express at the airport, to the coach bus, to arriving at the resort, to arriving at the parks. They do a great job of making you feel welcome. But one thing I didn’t expect was for them to be just as intentional to say Thank you when we left. Not only do they do a great job of welcoming you when you arrive, they are intentional about saying goodbye.
I have started reading this book. Disney U. It’s loaded with great information. Disney believes that if they treat their employees (aka Cast Members) well, then they will in turn treat their customers (aka guests) well. When it comes to training volunteers, I think we can learn a few things from Doug Lipp’s book.
Summer is in full swing & we have lots happening on Sunday mornings at our church. We have some of our regular volunteers as well as some parents and occasional volunteers helping in Kids Ministry during the summer. I know that a lot of people could be out doing things on the weekends, especially when the weather is nice, so I really want people to know how much I appreciate them & the time they are taking to serve the kids and their families this summer.
So, the first thing on my “to do” list for Monday mornings this summer is to say THANK YOU! I will email all the people who volunteered on the previous day, and thank them for taking the time to serve in Kids Ministry.
Throughout the year, I send Thank You cards to random people. Sometimes it’s for going the extra mile, and sometimes it’s just to say thank you for faithfully serving. That’s another Monday morning thing. I write a hand written card and say something specific that I noticed. Then I pop it in the snail mail box for them to receive some time that week.
Take the time to say Thank You. It will make a huge difference.