Five Ways to Support Children’s Church Volunteers
If you are a children’s ministry leader, one of your top concerns is probably “how do I keep volunteers around?” or some variation of that question.
I think, as leaders, we tend to get in our “zone” and forget about the needs of the big people in children’s ministry. Or maybe that’s just me! We want everything to be perfect for the little ones, but are baffled when the big ones start going missing or just seem to be having a hard time.
What Kind of Adjustments Can I Make to Help Support and Keep Children’s Church Volunteers?
Making a few adjustments as a leader can go a long way in helping your volunteers feel supported and valued for the work they are doing (really, you could use these tips in any ministry, but we’ll just stay focused on children’s ministry for the sake of keeping it simple!)
Have a vision. Write it down! Communicate it clearly to those who are serving alongside you. Make sure the vision is compatible with the vision for the church in general. Perhaps set up a meeting with the pastor to run some ideas by him and to receive any thoughts he has for the children in the congregation. Sometimes people get bogged down in the childcare aspect of children’s church (and certainly, that is a large part of it, but you should have a bigger picture in mind when you step into your classroom!)
Value their time. If you must have a meeting, be prepared and keep it as brief as possible. Many workers have young children of their own, and so can’t stay after for very long. If you have someone who has extra concerns, take them aside after the meeting so that they can express their issues to you. Make notes ahead of time of what you will cover in the meeting, and try not to stray too far from that agenda.
Make a schedule. First, ask for everyone’s availability- and work within those parameters as much as you possibly can! If someone says they are only available for one service a month, respect that. If you absolutely need that volunteer more than that, talk to that person privately and ask them if they could possibly do more, but don’t mandate a particular level of commitment- especially if they’ve already stated their availability. They might be serving in another area of ministry too, so keep in mind you may need to coordinate with other leaders to work out a schedule for some volunteers. Do find what works for your ministry. Maybe someone would like to work every Sunday morning, or maybe you should alternate workers for a particular time slot. If you have a special service every month, try not to put that same volunteer on the schedule every month during that time. Depending on how many services you have per week, you might want to require your volunteers to sit in one service a week. Workers can get burnt out pretty fast when they are not receiving in “big people church” on a regular basis- even if they are “gung-ho” about serving in children’s ministry!
Show appreciation. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but even picking up a $1 box of candy at the store, or swinging by a drive-thru for a cup of coffee on a hectic Sunday morning to give to a volunteer can boost morale. A hand-written card with sincere words of appreciation is meaningful as well. If you have a volunteer who is going over and above, maybe get permission to honor them during a service. A bouquet of flowers, or a bunch of fun balloons and a gift card (people usually love gift cards to certain coffee shops that shall go unnamed!) can really make someone’s day! Maybe even plan to do that once a quarter. Your thoughtfulness as a leader is so important- especially in an area of ministry that has the tendency to be unpopular!
Make it fun. You’re serving children! If the workers aren’t having fun, it definitely shows! Ask yourself and the volunteers how you can have more fun and create more energy in your children’s ministry. You could plan a quarterly pizza party or an ice cream social with your team and their families. That sort of thing unites the team and makes people feel like part of a bigger picture.
Other Ways to Support Children’s Church Volunteers
There are many other ways to show your support for volunteers in children’s ministry. The most important thing is to pray and stay alert for God’s leading in this area. You are not only caring for the hearts of the children, but also the hearts of the grown-ups caring for the children!
What tips can you add to this list?
Becky is a wife of eight years and stay at home mom to three young children. She aspires to encourage women in Biblical truth on her blog, Happy Christian Home.