by Amy Fenton
I had coffee a few days ago with some awesome kids ministry leaders. They are at a new church that is growing and thriving. So exciting! As we talked, their love for their church was evident. They had a passion and excitement for this new path God has put them on, and joy was oozing out of them. As I begin to ask questions about their ministry structure and environment, they were saying all the right things, until we started talking volunteers. Suddenly their countenance changed. “I just don’t think we can get any permanent volunteers. It’s just not our culture.” Yes, you could almost hear the music stop. And, I wanted to say: “WHAT?! Are you kidding me?” (Maybe I said that out loud. Is that so wrong?) “I cannot accept that answer. I don’t believe that is the culture you want for your church.”
Let me pause here.
If this is how you feel, you need to find a Live to Serve location and drive, fly or hitch hike there ASAP. We will make sure you never say, “I just don’t think we can get any permanent volunteers” again. Because at Live to Serve we believe: yes, you can. Anyone can! Look around you. At my kids’ school, the PTO serves once a week (at least) running things behind the scenes. At my boys’ Cub Scout meetings, there are tons of men there running everything on a weekly basis—as volunteers. We went to look at pets at the animal shelter, and guess what? It is run by permanent, regular volunteers. Volunteering is not a “church” thing. It is a life thing. People are doing it all around you. And do you know why? Because someone:
- Gave them a vision of the needs.
- Set the bar high on what was expected to fill the volunteer role.
- Made a big ask of them to fill this role.
Back to the conversation at the coffee shop . . .
As I continued talking with these precious ladies, they realized they had been making asks apologetically instead of boldly. You know, when you say something like: “Would you mind serving this Sunday in the two-year-old room? I promise if you can help this one time, you don’t have to serve for another month.” What if that conversation changed? What if you said: “I have an amazing room of two-year-old kids who deserve someone to love them every week. Someone who will get to know them and their parents. Someone who will make their first impression of the Church a great one. Someone who will be Jesus to them.” I think you may get a better volunteer base with plan B.
So, I challenged these ladies to do a few things when they got home.
- Make a list of goals. For example, by spring, we would like to have at least one permanent volunteer in each room.
- Share your goals with your lead staff, your parents and your volunteers.
- Explain the “why” behind the goals. For a lead pastor, you may need to explain that you want permanent volunteers in classrooms because it will allow your families to feel more loved and known, thus gaining their trust and commitment to his vision for the church, thus leading to a stronger church and greater impact on the community.
- Make a chart where they can see the available positions and celebrate when they are filled.
- Celebrate, train and inspire those volunteers that come their way!
If you already have amazing volunteers, great. Come join us at Live to Serve, and we will reinforce all the things that you have been saying to them. We will train them and make sure they know how valuable they are to their few that they serve. They are the game changers—for sure!
If you are new to ministry and only have a few volunteers, great. Come to Live to Serve and we will help your volunteers catch the vision for what can happen when a volunteer team expands. They will get vision that they will take back and leak to others. It will help your team grow!
If you like a party, like to dream, like to celebrate, like to feel inspired, enjoy laughing with others, like to envision the future for kids ministry, then you need to join us at Live to Serve!
Yes, it is that great! You don’t want to miss this.
Help your volunteers feel inspired, celebrated and empowered by spending a Saturday morning with us at LIVE TO SERVE, a unique event for preschool and children’s ministry volunteers. Join us in Fort Myers, Fla., Raleigh, NC, Knoxville, Tenn., Rogers, Ark., and Naperville, Ill., this winter. REGISTRATION OPENS OCTOBER 29! Register on Opening Day to receive extra perks. For more information, please visit LiveToServe.co.