Need More Children’s Ministry Volunteers? Follow These 7 Steps

Need More Children’s Ministry Volunteers? Follow These 7 Steps

Managing your children’s ministry is difficult.

Regardless of how much time or how many resources you devote to this ministry, it can feel like it’s never enough.

You need teachers and helpers.

You need a solid curriculum and engaging activities.

Your volunteers come and go, and it can seem like you’re always in need of help.

If your children’s ministry stresses you out, you’re not alone. Countless church leaders have expressed feeling a similar sentiment.

When hearing from church leaders, here’s the one problem most of them have in common:

They need more volunteers (like yesterday) in their children’s ministry.

If this is you, don’t sweat it. I’ve got you covered.

In this post, I’m going to lay out tactics you can use to inspire more volunteers to join your children’s ministry today, as well as different ways you can prepare volunteers to serve tomorrow.

Let’s get started!

#1 – Always pray

At Church Fuel, we focus on providing insanely practical resources to help you lead your church.

Even though there tends to be practical answers to ministry problems, this doesn’t mean you should skip right to the best practices without prayer.

There’s an old adage that goes like this:

Work as if everything depends upon you. But pray as if everything depends upon God.

I understand it’s stressful when you need more volunteers.

If you’re like me, you just want to get right to work recruiting people.

But fight the temptation to move forward without prayer.

Remember, God is at work in your church.

He will lead your church members to serve his church.

Before you implement the tactics below, be sure to be in constant prayer. In time, God will raise up volunteers to participate in his work through your children’s ministry (Matt 9:38).

#2 – Build a leadership pipeline

Do you need more children’s ministry volunteers ASAP?

If you’re in dire straits, take a deep breath—everything is going to work out.

I’m not encouraging you to be patient for patience’s sake.

There are two practical things you need to keep in mind:

  1. You need more volunteers now.
  2. You need to prepare more volunteers for later.

Below, I’m going to share several tactics you can use to encourage more people to volunteer in your children’s ministry. So let me punt on this for now.

Here’s one thing I want to stress:

You need to create a leadership pipeline.

In other words, you need to develop a system your church can use to lead people to volunteer. This way, you won’t always have to scramble to find people to serve.

As a church leader, you need to have one foot in the present and one in the future. When it comes to volunteers in your church, you need to prepare for the future by developing people today.

#3 – Make it easy to volunteer

Serving is a natural outcome as a Christian.

When you place your faith in Christ, you’ll grow a desire to serve God, serve people, and serve your church.

What does this mean for you?

There are more people in your church who desire to serve than the number who are currently serving.

What’s the holdup?

Well, it depends.

From not knowing how to get involved to feeling incompetent, there are a variety of reasons why your church members are not volunteering—especially in your children’s ministry.

One key to encouraging people to sign up is to make volunteering easy like Sunday morning.

Practically speaking, here are three things you must do:

  1. Be organized
  2. Clarify expectations
  3. Get a legit curriculum

It’s one thing to need more volunteers. It’s a different ball game actually being organized enough to handle more volunteers. As a church leader, you need to be prepared to handle an influx of people.

The first thing you need to do is clarify expectations.

Here are some things volunteers will likely want or need to know:

    • What do I need to do?
    • When do I start?
    • How long do I need to commit?
    • Who do I ask for help?
    • Do I need training?
    • Who do I report to?
    • What are the security protocols?
    • How do we contact parents when a kid is sick?
    • How do we handle discipline?

Nailing down the answer to these questions will place you well on your way to making it easy to serve in your children’s ministry.Finally, you need to invest in a legit children’s curriculum. Make sure your volunteers have everything they need ahead of time. From the lesson they’re going to teach to the craft they need to build, provide your children’s ministry volunteers with everything they need.

#4 – Cast a compelling vision

Casting a vision doesn’t only influence the trajectory of your church.

The existence (or absence) of a compelling vision will also influence your children’s ministry.

As a leader, help your church members to see what can be possible.

Show them how your children’s ministry connects with God’s plan.

Help them to see how their work supports the mission of your church.

Paint a compelling picture of sharing the gospel and supporting parents and guardians in making disciples of their children.

Don’t be apologetic.

Don’t rely on shame or guilt.

Share a vision for your children’s ministry that people can see and feel.

#5 – Just ask people

Life in your children’s ministry is busy.

When your church members observe what’s going on, they may think everything is running like a well-oiled machine when you know there are a few volunteers ready to retire because they’re burned out.

Don’t assume this is a bad thing.

In sociology, there’s a thing called the “bystander effect” that can potentially explain why people don’t raise their hands to help—it may be because they think someone else is already taking care of the job.

There’s one easy way to counteract this belief:

Ask people one-on-one to volunteer.

Whether you ask someone in person, over the phone, or via email, directly asking them to consider participating in God’s work through your children’s ministry is arguably the best way to encourage people to volunteer.

Don’t be afraid to ask, and again, don’t be apologetic.

Remember, God is at work in your church. He is calling people to serve, and you are simply providing them an opportunity to exercise their calling and gifts.

#6 – Look in your student ministry

Do you have a student ministry?

If so, then high school students can be a great source of children’s ministry volunteers.

When you invite students to volunteer, be sure to connect each one with an adult volunteer who will show them the ropes. What is more, adult volunteers can also serve as a mentor and another voice speaking into their lives.

If you go this route, I suggest asking your student ministry leaders who they think will be good volunteers.

#7 – Launch a short-term campaign

Still in a bind for more volunteers?

In the life of your church, there will likely be a time when you’ll need an influx of volunteers.

Instead of just banking on a church announcement to do the trick, put together a short-term campaign to get people excited to join your children’s ministry.

For your campaign, set a goal of how many volunteers you need, and come up with a catchy theme you can use, such as:

    • Change Someone’s World
    • For the Future
    • Seeds of Faith
    • Jump on Board
    • Building the Future Together

When running your campaign, don’t forget everything I just shared.

You don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater (principles) to recruit a few more volunteers.

With your campaign, set a start and end date and go for it!

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

    • Make a church announcement
    • Share stories from volunteers
    • Send emails
    • Create social media content
    • Ask people (see above)
    • Send push notifications

Depending upon your situation, you can also preach a sermon or sermon series on volunteering in general or children’s ministry in particular. This is the same idea we shared when launching a small group event.

Over to you

A good approach to boosting engagement and increasing volunteers in your children’s ministry is to have a long- and short-term approach. As I mentioned above, there will be times when you’ll need to focus on recruiting volunteers now, and that’s okay. Even though this will be the case at times, I encourage you to still work toward creating a long-term plan. You can thank me later.  

How to Get More People to Volunteer

How to Get More People to Volunteer

“Man… we have so many volunteers, we don’t even know what to do with them all.”

Have you ever heard anyone say that?

We definitely haven’t.

In our FOMO-driven world, it’s often hard to get people to commit to anything. The people who do volunteer seem to flake out and we are left on Sunday mornings short-staffed and struggling to be the most effective we can be in our different ministry areas.

But we believe it doesn’t have to be this way. We believe there are practical steps you can take to get more people to volunteer in your church and help your ministries thrive. That’s what we’d love to share with you today.

1. Figure out exactly who you need. 

“How many volunteers do you need?” 

“More.”

Do you notice the problem with the above conversation?

More is not a goal. It can’t be reached. There is no end in sight.

And when your church hears this, they can almost sense this “doom and gloom” in your voice—the quest for never-ending volunteers. Or it sounds like no one can measure up and do all that needs to be done.

It honestly doesn’t sound like volunteering will be fun or an enjoyable experience.

Something to help break this cycle is creating a volunteer org chart. Writing down every single role you’d like filled (whether you have a person to fill it or not) can give you an exact idea of how many volunteers you actually need to effectively run each ministry area.

Not only that, but once you realize you need a fifth-grade kid’s leader, a production director, and a volunteer coordinator—you will be able to recognize people’s gifting to find the best people to fill your missing roles, and not just filling them up with warm bodies. Which leads us to our next point.

2. Ask people personally.

People can’t volunteer if they don’t know volunteers are needed.

And again, there’s a difference between announcing that you “desperately need kid’s ministry volunteers” (cue every Cheaper by the Dozen scene where twelve kids are running around wreaking havoc on everyone and everything—no thanks) and a simple “we need three elementary school classroom leaders.”

It makes it sound much more structured and like that is a much more attainable goal.

When you know what you’re looking for, you begin to notice people in your church.

Maybe there is someone in your small group who is really wise and soft-spoken and they’ve never volunteered because they’ve felt like they needed to be the outspoken life-of-the-party to volunteer. But they might make a great discipleship team member to pray with people after the service or get people connected to your church.

How much more would it mean for you or your staff to go up to someone and say, “Hey, we are so glad you’re a part of our church family. You know, I’ve seen that you are a great listener. That is a gift! Would you consider being a part of the discipleship team? I think you’d be really great at it.”

You might even be making someone aware of gifts they didn’t even realize they had. We love hearing stories of churches that do this.

3. Be clear about what is expected of your volunteers. 

Every volunteer needs a job description.

Just because it isn’t a paid position, it doesn’t make it okay to throw your volunteer to the wolves. Like any other job, you need to provide clarity for the person filling a volunteer role.

How long do you need them to serve? Is it short-term or long-term?

Do you need them at one service? Both services?

Every week? Every other week? Once a month?

Be specific. Clarify what your expectations are. That way people know exactly what you expect of them and with that information, they can let you know if they’re able to meet those expectations.

4. Celebrate your current volunteers. 

Rick Warren started his book The Purpose Driven Life with these words: “It’s not about you.”

But if we want volunteers who are going to stay engaged, it does need to be about them a little bit. A little encouragement goes a long way. People need to feel important. They need to feel like what they are doing matters. This will motivate them to continue serving.

You can do this in small, inexpensive ways like thank you notes, bragging about them on social media, telling stories about volunteers from the pulpit, giving them a gift, and letting them know they’re doing a great job and that you’re thankful for them.

You can also do this in bigger ways, like throwing a volunteer appreciation event. You can do it big and make it a show with entertainment or just a simple dinner.

Either way, it strengthens your relationship with your current volunteers, encouraging them to continue serving and staying engaged, as well as showing people who are not volunteering what the benefits of serving are.

It’s important for people to see that in addition to being selfless and giving their time and energy to serve, they will gain friends and a family to serve alongside. They’ll see that they will learn and grow through serving others. These are the things that will intrigue people to volunteer.

 

Take a Next Step

How do you take the stuff in this post and put legs on it? From someone who used to be a pastor and church planter, I know it can be frustrating to implement.

We know you care deeply about leading a healthy, growing church because it means leading more people to Jesus. Leading volunteers is an integral part of that process so everyone can spend time on what they're best at. As a result, we created a free guide to leading staff that will bring clarity and help begin to alleviate your frustrations.

Get your FREE copy of the Senior Pastor's Guide to Leading Staff today.

Three Things Every Volunteer, Leader or Staff Member in Your Church Needs

Three Things Every Volunteer, Leader or Staff Member in Your Church Needs

Committed volunteers, dedicated leaders, and qualified staff members can be an incredible help to the church.

But leadership comes with a responsibility to care for those we lead.

It’s not just about motivating them to do more, it’s about helping them grow as people. It’s about helping them use their gifts to follow Jesus, not just get work done for the church.

It’s easy to think about what you need volunteers to do or what you need your staff members to do, but what do your volunteers and leaders need from YOU? What must you provide for key people in your church?

Here are three things you must give leaders in your church.

1. VISION.

Volunteers, leaders and team members need someone to communicate the why behind the what. They need to understand how what they are doing connects to the big picture. They need to understand where they fit. Remember, mission and vision are two entirely different things.

Your mission is your big-picture reason for existence. It’s your purpose. It’s your why-behind-the-what, and when you think about it, you’re never really going to accomplish it. Communicating mission isn’t enough…because it doesn’t have a due date.

That’s why you’ve got to provide a steady dose of vision to all of your leaders. You have to clearly community what you’re all about right now, in this season of ministry. You’ve to make sure the things people are doing are connected to what’s most important.

Great volunteers, leaders and team members will tend to pick up extra responsibilities over time. Because they are so committed to the church, it’s easy for them to get out of their sweet spot and exert a lot of sideways energy.

When you talk about the mission and vision, you bring people back to the center.

2. APPRECIATION.

“Your reward is in heaven.”

While that’s true, don’t let that become an excuse for not saying thanks on earth. Heaven feels like a long way off, so you’ve got to lather on appreciation now.

Your volunteers, leaders, and staff members need to hear you say thanks over and over again. They need to know when they are doing a good job, and they need you to specifically point it out.

It's not enough to FEEL grateful for people. You need to TELL them thank you.  

When I was pastoring a church in Atlanta, one of my favorite environments was a leadership gathering we did every quarter. We simply invited every volunteer, leader and team member to the church for a time of inspiration and appreciation. It was old school “food, fellowship and fun!”

At this quarterly event, we always gave out an award to a volunteer or leader who was doing a great job. These awards were a big deal, and everyone loved them. It made an impact on the person receiving them, but everyone in the room felt honored and valued.

Volunteers need to know they are needed, and they need to know their involvement and investment are appreciated.

3. DIRECTION.

Most people really do want to do a good job, but they can't hit a target if it's constantly moving. That's why every volunteer and leader in your church should have a simple, one-page job description. It should tell them what they do, when they do it, and who to talk to if they have a question.  

In your role as the Chief Clarity Officer, you can help people focus on what matters most and what matters now.

One of the best ways to do this is to clarify roles and goals – what you truly do and what you’re trying to accomplish. When everyone is clear on those two things, you can develop synergy and get the entire team moving in the same direction.  

A lack of clarity creates confusion – a situation where everyone is doing a lot of good things but the church as a whole isn’t really moving forward.   

But when you clarify how everyone fits, what their areas of responsibility really are, and a real goal to reach over the next few months, people love it.

People really want to do a good job. So go ahead and define what that looks like exactly. Get really clear on roles and goals.  

The Resource Library at Church Fuel contains a Roles and Goals Worksheet to help you take action. Join now and immediately access this simple but powerful tool.

Every leader in your church needs to know the vision, experience appreciation and understand the direction.

If you’re the senior leader, it’s up to you to provide this. You’ve got to create a culture where these things happen naturally, and it starts with making sure they happen intentionally.

So What's Next?

You're supposed to lead your staff and develop leaders in your church, but where do you start?

To make it simple we created a FREE resourced called the Senior Pastor's Guide to Leading a Staff. This simple guide will help you with practical ideas and resources on leading a staff intentionally and consistently.

Get your FREE copy of the Senior Pastor's Guide to Leading a Staff today.