by Amy Fenton
Remember that cute little song we used to sing, “Share with one another, share with one another, this is the happy way to share with one another”? Well, the person who wrote that song was obviously not a kids ministry leader. I mean, let’s get real. Share?! No one has any idea how hard we have to fight to get resources and volunteers and goldfish and space in the bulletin and. . . .
Okay, that is really not the right attitude to have, but as I travel and speak to ministry leaders I am reminded that this is how so many feel. In fact, I dare say that there was a time in my ministry that I felt that way too. And I understand why this may be your struggle. Many of you are overworked and understaffed and trying hard to get “just a few more volunteers” so you can simply survive the weekend, because Sunday is always coming. But, the reality is that the song is right. There are people and their gifts that need to be shared.
Let me explain what I mean. The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:7: “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other . . .” (and all of them are meant to be used in kids’ ministry). Isn’t that how we interpret it? Here is the hard truth, not everyone is meant to serve in your ministry, and it is your job to recognize this truth and help him or her find a place to serve according to his or her gifts.
When I was on staff at my last church, I took on a ministry that had a total of about five weekly, committed volunteers. Which was great! Except, we had 25 preschool classrooms that met for two services and needed two or more volunteers per classroom per hour. You can do that math. We needed volunteers—BADLY! Because the ministry seemed in such disarray, many were afraid to commit. It was like asking someone to jump onto a sinking ship. So, we had to take baby steps to get people back on board with the mission and vision of the ministry. I started by asking volunteers to serve consistently for one semester, and I made them a promise: “At the end of this semester, we will evaluate and if this is not the place for you we will help you find where you need to be serving—no matter what ministry.” This was not an easy promise to make. When you need to find a few hundred volunteers, who wants to give up even one? But, I also knew that people who get involved in your ministries and never see a way out, will potentially run from serving altogether, especially if they are “trapped” (e.i., guilted into staying) in the wrong place.
At the end of that semester, we evaluated. Some people were in the wrong place, many were not. For those that needed a change, we took the time to help them find a new place to test the waters. For some, we sent them to meet with my friend Jamie. She was the head of the parking, greeting, offering and more. For others we had to go talk with Jeremy and Jake. They were my buddies who were leading the student ministry. The list of potential areas for service was quite long and we were sure each person had a gift that could be used in one or more areas. We realized that we were a team, all working together for the good of the body. We had to consider what was best for our church and what was best for those serving in our ministries.
You must do the same. When one ministry wins, it is a win for everyone. It is a win for your church and a win for your volunteers! I believe that God is all for the sharing mentality. I will go a step further and say that I believe God is not cheering for the hoarding mentality. It doesn’t benefit your ministry, your church, your volunteers or the Kingdom. Yes, it may help you survive this coming Sunday . . . but I would rather see you thrive!
1 Corinthians 12:18–27
“But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you.’
“In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”