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 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.
Every year we have a volunteer training event in September. We review the safety stuff as well as the vision and values. It’s a chance for new volunteers to learn the basics and returning volunteers to be reminded about why we do what we do. At this event we review our Volunteer Training Book. This book outlines our safety policies as well as the need to know info for our Kids Volunteers.
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 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.
Kids Kount Publishing has created some videos to help train Kids Ministry Staff & Volunteers. Each video is 3 minutes or less, and is available online for free. No subscription, so signing up…just click on the video & press play! Here are some of the topics they cover:
Understanding Grade Schoolers
Tips for Directors, Leaders & Coaches
Skill training for Large Group Teachers & Small Group Leaders
Kids Ministry Space
Each of these sections has several videos to choose from. Forward the link to your volunteers & help them sharpen their skills by watching these training videos online.
Once a year I host a Kids Ministry Training Event for all my Kids Ministry Volunteers. I do it “conference style” with Main Sessions and Workshops. I work hard to create a fun event that people enjoy coming to so that they will want to come to the next training event. This particular event was a Monster Mash. Complete with decor, food, & music, we played on the Monster Mash theme. I chose this theme partly because I was planning to use some video clips from a training event that Sue Miller did at a Promiseland Conference many years ago. You can read about the Ministry Monsters in her book, “Making Your Children’s Ministry the Best Hour of Every Kid’s Week”.
When putting together a training event, be sure to remember the following:
Make it Fun – If it’s not fun, people won’t come back. Decor, music & door prizes help.
Make it Count – Everything should be intentional and time well spent.
Make sure there is Food – If you provide food, people like that.
Make it Motivational – Always include a talk that reminds people WHY we do what we do.
Make it Practical – People want to learn something that they can implement as they volunteer with you.
Provide a take home – I give each volunteer a reuseable bag & stock it with helpful print material, a pen & paper & candy. (usually chocolate is involved)
What do you do for training events with your volunteers?
This book is on my top 10 for favorite Kids Ministry books! It’s loaded with ideas. Aaron Reynolds is a creative writer and story teller, and he shares his experience in this book so that people can do a better job of bringing the Bible to life through story telling. It’s a must have on your Kids Ministry book shelf. Here’s a breakdown of the table of contents:
Creating an Atmosphere of Excellence – memorizing, practicing, and evaluating
Fabulous Techniques for Transformational Teaching – a bunch of great stuff in this section
Power Tools of Creativity – 20 Ways to Teach the Bible Creatively
Teaching Evaluation Form – a sample form to evaluate your teaching
Personal Development Plan for Teachers – a tool to help teachers grow
A Training Guide for Ministry Leaders – How to use the book to train your teachers
I teach 2 Children’s Ministry courses at Emmanuel Bible College in Kitchener, Ontario. One of the classes was on the topic of leadership. I used this team building activity to demonstrate how important communication skills are when leading a team. The students were able to pull all kinds of valuable lessons from this exercise. Here’s how it works:
Team: works best with 4-6 people in a group
Supplies: Duct Tape, a marker, a piece of paper & blindfolds
Prep: cut long strips of duct tape (one for each person on the team) and attach one end to the marker. This video at the end of this post illustrates how to do this.
Directions: Designate one person on the team to be the leader. Everyone else on the team puts on a blindfold.
Give the leader a simple picture that you want their team to draw. (e.g. happy face) Don’t tell or show the picture to anyone but the leader.
Each person on the team holds one of the duct tape strips, and together, they try to get the marker to move to draw the object.The leader must give instructions to their team to get them to draw the picture while blindfolded.
After you lead your team through this activity, ask them what they learned from this.
When new volunteers come to volunteer in Kids Ministry it’s important to make them feel welcome and give them details about what they need to do. Crossroads Church has a sign posted in their Kids Rooms that reminds the current volunteers what they should do when a new volunteer arrives in the room to serve.
Greet them – Saying hello when they arrive lets them know that they are valued and you are happy to have them there!
Make Introductions – Help them get connected by introducing them to the rest of the team.
Give them the 411 – Let them know what is going to happen that day, and what you need them to do.
Action! – Connect them with an experienced volunteer and help them jump right in.
Any Questions? – Ask them if they have any questions.
What do you do to help your volunteers on their first day in Kids Ministry?