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.
I finally finished a project that I have been working on for a few weeks. I wanted to create a way for kids and parents to say thank you to the volunteers who help on Sunday mornings. I created a DIY Mailbox, where kids can mail a thank you card. We set up tables in an open area where parents and kids could work on making a card together. Then, once they finished making their card, they could mail it in the mailbox. At the end of the month, we will distribute all the thank you cards to the volunteers. I printed off a list of all the volunteers for each room, so parents could find the names of the volunteers if they need them. If you want to create your own DIY Mailbox, this is how you can do it:
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:
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:
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.
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.
If you lead a team of volunteers, this is a must read book for you. It’s loaded with 99 chapters that are all 1-2 pages each.
This blog post would be extremely long if I were to list all 99 topics, so I have chosen a few to highlight:
Teach Shoulder Tapping – if pastors are solely responsible for finding volunteers, growth will be limited.
If You Don’t Need a Volunteer, You’re in Trouble – Is your vision too small?
Quality Attracts Quality – If your team is known for quality, then those who value quality will be attracted to your team.
Master the Art of Celebration – Quality celebrations are key to good leadership.
You Grow at the Edges – New people reach new people.
You Can’t Steer a Parked Car – Forward direction and momentum are required to make good decisions about ministry effectiveness.
Helping High-Capacity People – Help them find the place where they will have the most effectiveness.
If you do not already have this book on your shelf, then add it to your list of books to purchase. You’ll be glad you did.
If you want to keep the volunteers that you have, here are some things that you should remember:
Communication – Volunteers want to be in the loop and know what is happening. Don’t spring surprises on them or forget about them when it comes to communication. Stay in touch with them on a regular basis.
Feedback – Ask volunteers what they think. Ask them how things are going in their room. Send out a mini survey to get feedback on specific questions. When you ask them their opinion it helps them to feel like they are valued on the team.
Make it personal – Doing ministry is about serving together. It’s not about getting a job done, it’s about connecting with people on the journey. Sure you may be working together to accomplish a task or a goal, but really the priority is about the relationship that you are building with them. When people see that you value them as a person more than what they do, they will feel cared for. By keeping teams of volunteers small (max 12 people per leader) then you can build relationships at a personal level.
What are you doing to help reduce volunteer turnover in your ministry?
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?