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Is this your kidmin volunteer?

To be as effective as possible in your recruiting strategies it will pay to know who you are going after and who is most likely to answer your invite to joining you in ministry.

The question then we need to answer is who is the typical children’s ministry volunteer and what are they interested in? Answering this question will also allow you to prepare properly in answering the needs of those who volunteer. (Research taken from article by Eugene C. Roehlkepartain

-Most children’s volunteers (91 percent) are women.

-The average age for volunteers is 36.

-97 percent of children’s volunteers are “somewhat” or “very” enthused about working in children’s education.

-On average, volunteers spend 40 minutes preparing to teach a class.

-The average volunteer has worked with children for four years.

-The average children’s volunteer reads the Bible only once or twice a month when alone.

-The average children’s worker has some college education, and 47 percent have at least a college degree.

-Two-thirds of volunteers (68 percent) say faith is “very important” or “the most important” thing in their lives.

-Three-fourths of volunteers (77 percent) are married.

Search Institute asked 1,500 children’s workers what they’d be interested in learning more about from their church. Here are the percentages who say they’d be “interested” or “very interested” in each subject.

-Learning more about the Bible. 79% (interesting seeing the amount that people spend in reading the Bible alone. See above stat on this one as well).

-Learning more about creative and innovative approaches to Christian education. 66%

-Better Christian education planning in my church. 58%

-Learning more about faith development. 55%

-Getting more help on teaching techniques. 54%

-Finding better curriculum materials. 50%

-Learning more about my denomination’s theology, tradition and history. 50%

-Learning how to test my work as a Christian educator. 49%

-Learning more about moral education and development. 47%

Does this look like the typical volunteer in your ministry? What is different? How are you meeting or going to change the way you invest in volunteers due to understanding who your volunteer looks like now?

Seek N Spell app for children’s ministry

As with anyone who works with kids in any capacity, we are always on the look out for new gadgets, tools, and now we can add into that list – the world of ever-increasing apps. It is from this list of apps that I want to bring a new one to you called: Seek n Spell.

Seek ’n Spell uses your GPS to create a new type of game. The object is to gather virtual letters and create words. Seek ’n Spell is played gathering in a park or other large outdoor space, players then race one another around the field to capture up to 10 letter tiles at a time, which they use to create words. Coveted gold tiles will appear randomly on the field, earning players a doubled score when used in words. Points are earned based on the length of the words players spell, and the player with the most points when time runs out wins.

So what are you waiting for, gather some of your volunteers and go out for an afternoon of fun or gather volunteers and kids and make an afternoon of it. What a great way to develop team, fun, adventure and physical exercise to boot.

Volunteer recruitment the never statisfied topic

I have been in full time children’s ministry for years and there seems to be a couple topics that just never seem to be answered satisfactory for people. This topic even though there are books, blogs, conferences, networks, social media sites and so much more that write and discuss it in full and the all the while basically end up saying the same things, we just never seem to get enough.

The topic? Volunteer recruitment.

Here is a very quick over view of what seems to keep coming up being said on this topic minus the how to’s.

1. Pray
2. Prepare by creating ministry descriptions, creating the right culture to receive them in.
3. Create a process to train and equip the volunteers in all stages from being brand new to being veterans.
4. Invest in them, get to know them
5. Establish such a great environment and ways you already treat your current volunteers as they will be your walking billboards to new and potential volunteers.
6. Immerse them in your vision and mission. In order to do that, make sure you know what it is and it is in writing.
7. Set them up with those who can walk with them and model what you are looking for.
8. Establish lines of communication so they never feel alone, and have access to get answers promptly.
9. Be known as a ministry that gives the proper tools to those who volunteer.
10. Allow volunteers to minister where they are gifted in.
11. Ask people to volunteer after you have watched them, so they know you are paying attention.
12. Make sure the path to start volunteering in your ministry is as clear and free of hindrances as possible.
13. Train and set up the culture of all volunteers help recruit other volunteers
14. Look for volunteers everywhere and be ready to share with them how the ministry will help them and not just how they can help the ministry.

Ok, so there are just 14 broad strokes on what I have seen over all the years in children’s ministry on the topic of volunteer recruitment. I may have left a couple out but they may also be able to be clumped into the general ones I have listed here already.

So with only 14 general items, why do we still have trouble? Is it we want a magic bullet? An easy step that takes no working it? When can we move past this never satisfied topic. Is this topic showing us that we are treating the wrong thing because we are not solving it?

Share your thoughts and any other items I may have left off from my brief list.

The Ark was 2×2, Volunteer recruitment is 1×1

If you have been in children’s ministry for more than a month, you know the magic bullet that everyone is looking for – Recruiting more volunteers.

There doesn’t seem that a week goes by without hearing from those who work in children’s ministry from the nursery to 5th or 6th grade say the phrase: “We need more help!” Look around in the chat forms from to cmconnect and the list goes on, their filled with post after post on needing help, recruiting volunteers, and even in my coaching for Coaching we have great discussions on how does a children’s pastor get more volunteers?

Everyone is looking for that magic bullet, the one time fix all solution. It is like we want an Ark experience where God calls in the volunteers 2 by 2 and they fill our ministries. I have news for you, unfortunately it has never happened that way and most likely will not happen that way. Instead it is done by 1 person praying and asking 1 person to join.

Some suggestions to help the 1×1 time more enjoyable and potentially more fruitful could be:
1. Make praying for volunteers a priority.
2. Stay consistent in the asking. You must always be pursuing those who stand out to you as potential team members.
3. Make you ministry area a place that people would want to volunteer. Make it fun, relational, important, a ministry that cares more for the people than just filling a spot.
4. Train everyone well and don’t be known for just throwing people into this big black hole and to never be seen again.
5. Create a mentoring type program for all new volunteers. This will not even help the new volunteer in training but it helps to strengthen relationships which is a huge reason people stay.
6. Consistently find ways to make your current volunteers ministry as good as it can be. This is from ensuring they have all the proper resources they need, appreciation shown privately and publicly. Your current volunteers are walking billboards for how you will treat new volunteers. And believe me people are watching.
7. Keep the vision alive and loud.

This list is by no means a complete list. What else would you add?

Children’s Pastor if you lead consider this…

The term of leader is so widely used and misunderstood. If you are a children’s pastor and have the title of “Children’s Pastor” or “Family Pastor” or whatever the leadership title is, then please consider the following.

You must have an honest understanding of who you are, what you know, and what you can do. Also, note that it is the followers, not the leader or someone else who determines if the leader is successful. If they do not trust or lack confidence in their leader, then they will be uninspired. To be successful you have to convince your followers, not yourself or your superiors, that you are worthy of being followed.

Too often I have seen people with the title of “leader” not really a leader. They are managers of bad situations at best. Even that management title will elude them over the long haul due to they won’t be able to manage effectively the chaos that they are the cause of due to ineffective leadership and management.

Some reasons why the ineffectiveness? They don’t grasp that different people need different styles of leadership. For example, a new volunteer requires more supervision than an experienced master teacher type volunteer. A person who lacks motivation requires a different approach than one with a high degree of motivation. You must know your people! To know your people you must create ways to get out and walk the halls, greet at the front of the church, rub elbows with those who come to your church not just in your children’s ministry. I know I can hear it now, “I can’t get out and do any of this because I have no volunteers to help so I can get out.”

A fundamental starting point is caring more for the people than you do a position they can fill. When they know this about you things will begin to change. Next, develop a good understanding of human nature, such as needs, emotions, and motivation. You must come to know your congregations be, know, and do attributes.

The basis of good leadership is honorable character and selfless service to your organization. In your congregations eyes, your leadership is everything you do that affects the organization’s goals and their well-being. Respected leaders concentrate on (U.S. Army, 1983):

* what they are [be] (such as beliefs and character)
* what they know (such as job, tasks, and human nature)
* what they do (such as implementing, motivating, and providing direction).

Lead on…

Volunteering in America

I can not tell you how many times I hear people say that their church members are not volunteering. Lets take a look at this graphic from Volunteering In America and see what it shows us.

So are you one who is having volunteer struggles? Here are a few questions for you that hopefully you have answers for, and if not I hope you will take the time to get the answers so you can change your volunteer status.

1. How are you connecting your volunteers to the bigger picture?
2. Do they know the true mission that is before them? Is the vision bigger than what you can handle and accomplish with just your current team?
3. Who and what are the most successful churches, businesses and organizations in your area that are doing the best in recruiting and keeping volunteers? Become a student of them, learn from them, see what you can take and apply from them.

Click to view original image.

People buy more into “Why” and not the “What”

I had ran into this great video on TEDtalks in youtube and thought, what a great thought. So I wanted to post it here to hear what you think? This thinking also goes along the lines of what Seth Godin wrote in his book Tribes as well, or I see the correlation.

So, now after watching the video, do you share more of the ‘What’ of your children’s ministry or the ‘Why’? Could you build a stronger following, volunteer base, by connecting with those who already have the same thoughts and voice of your ‘Why’ instead of drawing the ‘What’ people. What changes would need to take place for you and what steps are you going to make?

Video Tributes to those who work with Kids in the church

I wanted to give a loud shout out to those who work with kids. Often times these great faithful volunteers go under appreciated and are over used. So in my church I have secured some space in our weekly bulletin where every week I am highlighting 2 volunteers by name and why I am highlighting them. Let me tell you, this appreciation can and will go on and on and on.

So maybe you can enjoy these videos like I did.

Here is one from Tim, Bob and John on Babies

Tim Hawkins on nursery rhymes

Top 5 post for the week of August 28-Sept.3

Today I will post a quick recap of the 5 most read post for the week.

1. Some top iPad apps according to me 5/16/11
This post is basically what the title says, top apps that I enjoyed as of the week I posted it. What other apps would you add?

2. When to use my MacBook Air vs. iPad
In this post I explain the reasons behind the ways I switch between my macbook air and my iPad. They are both very powerful tools to use but I am finding that even though I can use either one to be productive throughout my whole day there still seems to be times that I prefer one over the other.

3. Insane volunteer recruiting
This is the post which kicked off my series of post over volunteer recruiting and some very ineffective ways that some people have used and even though the results have not been accomplished they still try to use the same methods and blame everything else except their ineffective ways.

Since these show up in the top 5 I will just point you now where you can read the rest of them:

Insane Volunteer recruiting part 2

Insane Volunteer recruiting part 3

4. Above or Below the line ministry results have reasons
Here I recap some great lessons from a book I was reading that talked about above and below the line type ministry results and how they are for a reason.

A. Above the line’ are steps to accountability, See It, Own It, Solve It, and Do It. People who adhere to these steps of accountability almost always think and act in an accountable manner…

B. Below that line’ is the all to familiar blame game or victim cycle. People who get stuck in the blame game begin feeling victimized by circumstances that seem out of their control…

5. Making a Living or Building a Cathedral?
This is one of the post that have made the top 5 list several times. It was written a long time ago which you will be able to notice seeing that the children’s ministry of mine I am mentioning is from the past but I could and do say the saem thing about my children’s ministry now in SFLCKids.

Insane Volunteer recruiting part 3

Here is part 3 of the Insanity of Volunteer recruiting that happens all over the globe in too many children’s ministries.

I kind of hit on this a bit yesterday and want to continue it a little more today. When you are creating your ministry descriptions make sure you design roles to meet gifts and abilities. Most of us have “cookie cutter” ministry descriptions. These may be good for briefly giving someone a quick over view, but rarely do they match a person’s gifts and abilities perfectly. I want a person serving in a role that maximizes their strengths. Their ministry will be more effective and the more effective a person is the longer they want to stay. The longer they want to stay the more it benefits not only me, but the kids.

Lastly, if you are tailoring the ministry descriptions with the people in mind and they are being positioned in places that they will be successful then doing this last one will be a lot easier.

Best method for recruiting is retaining the leaders you have. Pro-actively creating methods for equipping, solving problems, communicating effectively and re-enlisting volunteers is vital.

Spend some time going over the last few days with just some of the ideas we have covered in this blog and figure out how you may have been living the definition of insanity when it comes to your volunteer recruiting methods. Read the others here:

Volunteer recruiting
Volunteer recruiting part 1
Volunteer recruiting part 2

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