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volunteer

You don’t have because you have not asked.

boy and girl sitting on roof

It is amazing how many parents will tell their kids, “You don’t have because you have not asked”.

This should be a phrase that is internalized by many in church leadership. We often times complain that we don’t have any volunteers. We have no help. No one cares or people are lazy.

I am not sure this is completely accurate. Here is why.

In The Volunteer Revolution, Bill Hybels says, “Despite our efforts to publicly communicate needs and ask people to serve, by far the most effective ask is the personal one—and the more personal, the better. In fact, volunteers make the best volunteer recruiters.” I love those sentences by Hybels. Many today depend on the pulpit guilt trip, bulletin ask, or mass email being sent out to all the church asking them to volunteer. That is not an “Ask”, that is a “Plea or Begging”. People are not moved or wish to answer this.

So, instead, we need to “Ask” individuals.Social media has many advantages but it can never take the place of the real thing, the meaningful conversations, and the personal invitations to join us in ministry.

Keep it simple, “Ask” people to join you in the bigger picture that God has opened the doors for you to join Him in ministry.

You have no volunteers or a lack of volunteers because you have not asked them individually.

60 seconds does not equal 6 months

young man to hold up clock with hand

This will be a short post but one that I am learning the value of more and more each time.

Time for a confession. Often times I will have thoughts, ideas and plans percolating for months and become so excited to share these new directions or developments with my teams. Then I arrange the meeting and bring out the news! I watch the faces of those I have sprung this great stuff onto, wait for it…wait for it….Nothing?

What is going on? Maybe I need to rephrase it, so reforming the delivery of the news and still nothing. I can feel myself getting a little upset. Why are they not as excited as myself? Do these people understand how great this is? How many problems we have just solved? Why the lack of excitement?

Here is the lesson I am being reminded of…60 seconds does not equal 6 months. I have had 6 months to chew on and think through, and develop this great plan, my team has had 60 seconds.

Take your team with you. If you end up with the 6 months then when you deliver the great news, allow their seconds to grow and don’t expect more than a 60 second response.

Start to finish. Implementation ideas to unpack.

start to finish

Strong Start

The first step in having an effective start for any volunteer is making sure that the ministry they are starting to serve in has a clear and precise course of action to carry out the goals to achieve their wins. This includes orientations, learning the environment they’ll serve in, the role they’ll play, and being partnered with someone who can coach them early on.

Welcome “Bob”, our new background checked and approved volunteer. We get the go ahead from his criminal background check that nothing is in his closet to be concerned about (and if there is, we just set up another appointment to discuss that to see if we should go further or help them find another one of our great ministries offered within the church) so we set up our first meeting with him. During this meeting, the explanation of why God has our ministry right where He has us is unfolded. It explains clearly the reason someone would be led to come to our ministry and not maybe some of the other great ministries surrounding the area. It shows our uniqueness. Our specific DNA for accomplishing the Great Commission and Great Commandment.

Ministry descriptions and flow chart are shown. Tying in where they will be serving in the larger picture is extremely important. The understanding of what is expected from them and what they can expect from you or the ministry should be clear. Questions asked and answered are important in this first stage. People with limited time to offer for volunteering want to contribute to things larger than themselves. They want to make a difference. Show them how they are, then release them into the care of someone who will nurture that desire.

During this first step of unpacking a great ministry start for any volunteer, help them explore the environment they serve in. This “connection partner” will be extremely important in this phase. This is the foundation of your volunteer force. It is this foundation that others will be recruited, and trained from. Not to mention discipled in.

Now that will be a great stage one start. If you are not there yet then start with this end picture and work your way back. Ask yourself what steps are missing and what would it take to accomplish them. Then go nd do it! Have fun with step one. Watch for further steps to come in the days ahead.

The next post on this topic can be found here: Part 2.

Why you should answer the call to volunteer in children’s ministry

Volunteer Jump

Here is another guest post by a friend of mine who pastors here in Iowa, her name is Dawn Ferris. Enjoy the challenge by this post.

My heart is so burdened. I often write for those in children’s ministry—volunteers or other children’s pastors. But today, I’m writing to those who need to hear call of God to help out in their church’s children’s ministry programs.

There appears to be a serious shortage of people who are willing to make a commitment to helping children know Jesus. Across the country, in large and small churches, east coast, west coast and mid west, churches and children’s ministers are struggling to find people to serve in their ministries.

It’s a spiritual battle, and it is taking place within the walls of our churches and within the hearts of God’s people.

Children’s ministers are no longer called to minister to children, but to empower volunteers to serve. It has even been suggested that 85% of a children’s pastor’s time should be delegated to recruiting, equipping, encouraging and appreciating volunteers.

Yet churches and parents often still expect that same children’s pastor to invest another 85% of their time teaching, encouraging, planning events and equipping children.

Since 85% + 85% = 170% of their time, well, “Houston, we have a problem.”

Jesus knew it, and so He told us, “Ask the Lord of the Harvest to bring workers into the field. For the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few.”

Truer words have rarely been spoken. Children are so receptive to the love of God. Children are hungry for people to invest in them. Children want to be led. But the window of time is short, because children aren’t children forever.

And like the leaves change and fall with the seasons, a children’s open to the things of God has a very short window.

Don’t wait to be asked. Your children’s pastor or ministry leader may be swamped under the demands of a 170% work schedule. People often have a zillion reasons why they can’t serve in children’s ministry, but here are five I’ve come up with as to why you should consider answering the call of God and making the call to your children’s ministry leader.

5 Reasons to Answer the Call to Serve in Children’s Ministry

1—You have a chance to be a part of leading children to Jesus. Without Jesus, people are going to hell. With Jesus, people can be saved from hell. Care enough to help save a child.

2—You have a chance to be a part of leading children to Jesus. Repeatedly in God’s Word people found their way to Him because someone else led them there, and sometimes they did it when they were tired, beaten, shipwrecked or endangered. In the U.S., out of all those, we can probably only claim tired. Come and lead a child to Jesus.

3—You have a chance to be a part of leading children to Jesus. God promises us that He will equip us and strengthen us for His mission. Trust God to empower you to help lead a child to Jesus. He’s very reliable, and trusting Him can change your perspective and your life.

4—You have a chance to be a part of leading children to Jesus. To paraphrase Mordecai when he talked to Esther, if you don’t do it, someone else will, but you may be in your church to help for such a time as this. Children’s Ministry may be a little dangerous sometimes, but so is the alternative.

5—You have a chance to be a part of leading children to Jesus. We are in danger of raising another generation of children who don’t know Jesus. If you are reading this today, God is calling you to do something about it. Think about it. If you knew God was calling, wouldn’t you want to answer the phone?

Ok so those five reasons were really just one reason. But, what more reason do we need to serve than the privilege to partner with God to lead a child to Jesus and to see them saved from hell?

Answer the call. Make the call. See what God will do. Then write and let me know!! There’s nothing I love better than a great story of God at work in people’s lives.

Coming soon: What you can do to help when you are just not a “kid person”—not everyone is.

Jump start your children’s ministry with job descriptions

charging cables

Andy Partington is one of my Grad students of Kidology Coaching and the Minister to Preschoolers and Children at First Baptist Minden, Louisiana. You can find out more about him at www.andypartingtonblog.com

All good things begin with a plan. Filling a spot in children’s ministry is no exception. Here are some tips to help you create a super job description for your ministry that will help you define, explain, and ultimately sell this job to the right person.

Here’s the Hook

Every story I’ve ever loved hooked me from the beginning line. In your job description start out with a brief introduction that really speaks to what the job is about. The truly passionate volunteer will read this brief, paragraph long opening and want to read more.

Let’s say you need a Game leader for Kid’s Church. Your introductory paragraph should definitely mention phrases like “opportunities to play with kids”, “stir excitement and light-hearted competition”, or “helping kinetic learners to grasp the lesson with both hands.” (It’s an active job. Use lots of action words!)

A good hook will help you to reel them in with the rest of the facts. The introduction is also the place to lay out the ground work for all the detail stuff to follow.

Benefits

“You mean, I get something for volunteering?”

Before you tell them all the stuff that they have to do, let them know what they get from serving. If they’re going to be privy to firsthand knowledge, if they’re going to be part of a dynamic team, if they’re going to get to lead the parade of ministry success, these things need to be listed here in order for them to see that being a part of this ministry means something, and has some pretty neat perks too.

Responsibilities

Alright, you just laid out all the great swag that they’ll get from serving. Now, it’s time to tell them what they’ll actually be doing. A well-defined list of responsibilities not only keeps a volunteer on task, it lets them know right up front what’s expected of them. Also, laying out these responsibilities from the top will keep you from having to redefine and re-present them again and again.

Time Commitment

People are busy. Giving your volunteers a heads up on how much time they’ll be spending in a given field will help prevent burn out and let those special Children’s ministry champions plan ahead on giving the right amount of time to be successful.

Length of Commitment

Sometimes volunteers need a season of down time. It helps to give a set time that they’ll be serving. This can vary by position. A Sunday School teacher could work anywhere from a quarter to a full year. A nursery volunteer could roll off each month. Don’t hesitate to put this in writing. If the volunteer is passionate about the ministry, they can always sign-up for a longer commitment.

Training and Equipping

It’s very important to let your volunteers know that they’ll get the training and resources that they need to do the job well. This part of the job description is the perfect place to let them know how you’ll have their back. It also gives them an idea of how much time they’ll be spending in meetings, conferences, and training seminars.

Qualifications

What are some of the commitments that you’re asking your volunteers to present?
In your job description, let your volunteers know what skills they need to have to successfully complete the task.

Special Qualifications

This is a great place to list those special passions that you’re looking for in your next children’s ministry teammate. This is that final spot to really lay out the type of person that will be used in your particular ministry or program.

Men will rock your children’s ministry

man with child

Walk the halls and peek in on your children’s ministry rooms and see how many boys are engaged. It will be easy to see lots of them in the younger grades, but look between your 3-5th grade and that involvement begins to drop.

Unless, you have 1 thing!

Men in leadership roles.

In a book titled Creating the Ever Cool by author Del Vecchio (which I would recommend to anyone who works with kids) Del Vecchio says, “Brands that target both sexes during these ages are often more effective when they use boys in the spots and not girls. Boys are often turned off by the presence of girls, but girls are not turned off by the presence of boys.”

Having men in your leadership roles will help keep the attention and involvement of the boys who attend your ministry and will not hurt your female attendance. See how having the involvement of both boys and girls will create more momentum in your ministries.

Here is John Maxwell speaking on what he calls the Law of the Big MO!

That being said, here is what I have always tried to get accomplished in the years that I have been a children’s pastor. I try to get as many men as possible to be part of my ministries. To do that I must think through the color schemes that I use in my rooms, and in my advertising and such. I am in no way saying that women aren’t effective leaders. I know personally many women that are anointed and lead kids. But…it doesn’t change the fact that it will be harder to keep the boys engaged the same way, and the Law of the Big MO is more difficult to build. Why?…because I believe the majority of boys are wired like Del Veccio says above. During their pre-teen years, boys shy away from things that seem “girlish.”

Even though men are supposed to be grown up boys, it still doesn’t change how we men will still shy away from your children’s ministry if we feel it is not for us. Test this last statement a little by visiting Wal-Mart sometime and go into the underwear section. First watch in the girls section, you will mainly see moms and their daughters. Go into the boys section and you will see the family.

What would you need to do to attract more men into your children’s ministries?

How does your current ministry attract men?

You get from volunteers according to what you give them. How’s your getting?

Hands holding a gift box isolated on black background

In our pursuit of recruiting volunteers for our children’s ministries many explain that they are not getting the volunteers. I think we need to look inward before we begin to talk about how people just don’t volunteer in our ministries.

First I start with the view that volunteers want to be successful. They want to make a difference. They want to be part of a team because that is just how God made us all. I do think there are some steps we can take to help potential volunteers to be successful, able to make a difference as they serve on our teams.

What volunteers are able to give depends on what we give to them first.

Let’s start with those you already have as volunteer leaders. Have you established an environment that allows those currently volunteering in your ministry to be good walking billboards for you?

* Can they say you take care of them by having proper child to leader ratios?
* Would they say you give them the proper tools to get not just what you have asked them to get done but what about to get done what God has put on their hearts to do with the families?
* They feel immersed and knowledgable about the mission and vision because it is in writing, its taught to everyone and lived out for all levels of volunteer commitment within your children’s ministries?
* They have been mentored by a more experienced and seasoned volunteer. This helps with that all too often feel that some go through as they are thrown into a ministry and left alone.

Lastly but by no means finished, let’s look at a few things we should be giving to our new volunteers. Lets start after they sign up and have background checks done because at this time we all now we have to at least do this step.

* Do we have a process of getting to know them personally?
* Take them through some gift test to place them in the right spot?
* Can we hand them our ministry manual? This will help with a lot of uncertainty about how they order supplies, chain of command, discipline policy, and more.

I believe that if our giving is great then our getting will be good. How is your getting?

What else would you add for those already in the ministry?
What else would you add for those looking to come into the ministry?

Why in todays world is there still no cure for the common cold or recruiting volunteers?

volunteer-workers

I had posted way back in last July 2012 a post about a topic that just never seems to change. I am still baffled by it and want to post again some more thoughts in this area that baffle me. How is it that we can live in a world that long ago we sent a man to the moon, we have medical advances that baffle the best and brightest, we carry more technology in our phones than what we used to send those men to the moon? Yet, with all of this and so much more, we still have not found a cure for something so basic like the common cold or strategies for successfully recruiting volunteers?

I had listed in that earlier post 14 ways that are constantly talked about when it comes to recruiting volunteers. I want to dissect them a little more here to see whether they are not correct methods or we just are not investing the time to really do these things.

1. It starts with prayer. Yes we may pray but what percentage of our time is devoted to praying for the volunteers we need? Do we really believe God will show us? Have we created a culture of prayer? Have we become so busy that we really are not praying for volunteers?

2. Prepare by creating ministry descriptions, and creating the right culture to receive them in. Have we really created these to say what the volunteers will really do? Have we created them to be too big and not with the volunteer in mind but instead only our hopeful empty slot to be filled?

3. Create a process to train and equip the volunteers in all stages from being brand new to being veterans. Training seems to be a big missing piece in many churches yet the leaders are always looking to be involved in their own training by going to conferences, reading books, networking etc. Once we get a new volunteer, how do we invest in them in every stage of volunteering? This is probably one of the largest overlooked ingredients in helping us move the volunteer topic forward.

I will stop here but will continue to challenge you to think through your time spent in prayer for volunteers. Encourage you to make your descriptions real and relevant. Keep them updated and with your volunteers in mind. Lastly, ask yourself and your team what is your training process and opportunities for all of those involved in volunteering regardless of their stage of volunteering?

So no there may be no cure yet for the common cold or volunteer vacancies, but there are steps we can take to keep us in the best health possible. This is a start don’t you think?

How do you fulfill these listed today?

How do you show volunteers they are important

Thank You

I read a lot and hear a lot of kidmin folks talk about volunteers. A person can’t hang out in circles of kidmin folks very long without hearing people claim they need more volunteers. Visit churches and see bulletins full of request for volunteers, clever commercials created asking for volunteers. Maybe you are even one of these ministries as well?

The sad note is, many are set up to make the new volunteer feel important and needed but the tried and true volunteer who has been faithful for years feel forgotten and more like a mule just plowing as usual. Maybe you have fallen under this category?

If we continue to treat the tried and true volunteers as though they are not important then we will never really end up with any tried and true’s because they will continue to leave. Yes we may draw in all the new ones but the back door of our volunteer ministry force will be so large we will never keep up with the demand. Create a volunteer appreciation person. This person will naturally have the gift of hospitality and administration. They will totally focus on creating and implementing a process to cover all of our volunteers both publicly and privately with appreciation.

Whether you have you been with us for a long time, short time or just joining our SFLCKids family, we have you covered. Why? Because we truly do care about you!

What about you? What is your way of loving on your volunteers? What message do you send about the importance of volunteers, being with you for a long time or new?

Tired of the way things are? Then finally start reaching the kids.

Waiting

This title may seem strong, and in ways it is meant to be. I am constantly hearing from department heads in churches all over about how they are disappointed in their volunteer base, and the commitment level of those they do have in ministry. Many tell story after story about their frustration of those who just use church as a place to come and relax, take in, and socialize.

If this is you or anyone you know, then look at the importance the children’s ministry is given at their local church? It probably is not given much importance or had the priority given to it long enough to cycle kids from children’s ministry to adult ministry. Proverbs 22:6 says, Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

How do you get excited greater for your church? People willing to serve? Small group leaders who put the importance on discipleship that it should have? People who want to reach your community and will do what is needed? If you have not guessed by now, it is to REACH THE KIDS TODAY!

Here is the difficult obstacle that stands in the way of reaching kids today. Not enough adults who are willing to step up and invest now so that in years to come we can see a new generation of those running the church.

Will you be willing to take up the cross and deny yourself your comfy chair or pew every Sunday to spend it with kids? Maybe deny yourself the extra donut and fellowship group to invest in kids now?

You ready? The kids are waiting.

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