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.  

5 Ways to Motivate Your Church’s Volunteers

5 Ways to Motivate Your Church’s Volunteers

Keeping your volunteers motivated is difficult.

They and you are dealing with a host of challenges:

  • Struggles at work
  • Challenges at home
  • Financial stress
  • Lack of purpose

Any one of these issues can totally deflate a volunteers desire to serve.

Besides, motivation isn’t something you always possess.

Motivation in your life is more like gasoline in a car.

It’s a fuel.

Studies show that motivation—the willpower to do something—is a limited resource. The more you use it, the less you’ll eventually have.

Keeping this in mind is essential for managing your volunteers.

A volunteer’s motivation to serve Jesus and your church will go up and down with time.

However, there will be times when your volunteers will be on the struggle bus. In other words, they’ll be having a difficult time doing their work, or they’ll be just not doing it at all.

Before you fire your volunteers, I’d like to share with you five ways you can motivate them to do excellent work.

#1 – Define the issue

Why is it difficult to motivate your volunteers?

Before you confront a volunteer, it’s best to take the time to define the issue.

There are times when the problem will not be the volunteer per se. The problem could be caused by poor recruiting and/or a lack of training.

Consider these two questions.

First, does the issue revolve around your process?

From recruiting volunteers to preparing them to serve, do you have a system in place to help you empower your volunteers to serve well? If not, then you’ll have more than one volunteer to motivate because your process didn’t prepare them well.

Second, has your church lost momentum?

Has your church experienced a setback or did your pastor transition off staff? When this happens, you can lose momentum, which means while your church figures out what’s next, your volunteers may not care as much as they once did.

In both of these scenarios, you’ll need to address your church systems and culture. However, this doesn’t mean you have to avoid individual volunteers who are struggling. As you define the issue, you’ll see that you’ll need to work on your church as you support your volunteers.

Now, there will likely come a time when you’ll need to confront a volunteer.

Not in an aggressive, we-need-to-settle-this-in-the-parking-lot type of situation.

But there will be times when volunteers aren’t necessarily volunteering.

Instead of doing the work they agreed to do, they …

… show up late …
… don’t really do their job …
… and make life difficult for everyone else.

When you’re dealing with a problematic volunteer, there are several things you can do to empower him or her. Let’s explore a few of those options in detail.

#2 – Retrain

Do your volunteers know what they need to do?

If there’s a lack of clarity, then your volunteers won’t know what they should do, which means they’re not going to do their job.

If your volunteers are not serving to their fullest potential, the first thing you need to address is whether your volunteers know what’s expected of them.

Review their positions.

Walk through the requirements with them.

See whether they understand what needs to be done.

Afterward, do they have a better idea of what’s expected?

Great, your work is done.

Do they need help with their job?

Provide them with the training they need to get the job done.

If your volunteers’ lack of motivation isn’t due to a lack of clarity or training, it can be social, which leads me to the next point.

#3 – Build team chemistry

Teamwork is never easy.

In Christ, your church is unified—not perfect. You strive to live and love like Jesus the best you can. But at the end of the day, your church is made up of a mixed bag of people with different personalities, experiences, and expectations.

Putting a variety of people together to serve as volunteers can create challenges.

Here’s the deal:

It can be tough for people to get along with each other.

There are different types of personalities that just don’t mesh well together. That’s okay. Everyone who follows Jesus is always learning what it means to love one another (John 13:34–35).

Regarding team chemistry, there are two things you want to be aware of:

  • Do your volunteers struggle with specific people?
  • Do they thrive with other people?

If a few volunteers struggle to be around certain people, see if you can help them work through these differences. Provide them with guidance to navigate the minefields of personal relationships.

After you give someone an opportunity to work through his or her differences with someone else, and there’s still no resolution, then consider scheduling him or her to serve at a different time or in a different position (more on this later).

Is there someone in particular your volunteer thrives around? See if you can arrange for these people to serve together. Finding the best teams to work together can create a wonderful dynamic where the volunteers thrive and performance is improved.

#4 – Find a new position

Is someone miserable when serving?

Not in the “I don’t like serving” sense.

But in the “I want to serve, but I can’t stand what I’m doing” type of thing.

If so, there’s a good chance you’ll need to find him or her a new volunteer position.

At times, your church will need warm bodies—people who can temporarily serve in a position outside of their comfort zone. But there are other times when either you misread someone or someone doesn’t really know his or her passion and skills and how to best serve.


In either one of these situations, don’t beat yourself up about it. There are a ton of variables at play, and it can be difficult to find an ideal position for someone to serve in.  

How do you know if someone’s a bad fit for a role?

Consider these clues:

  • He or she regularly talks about doing something else
  • He or she dreads serving
  • He or she isn’t productive
  • He or she is clearly bored
  • He or she lacks passion

From this list of clues, the first one is what you really need to be on the lookout for. If your volunteers are struggling in their work, and they talk about doing something else, then consider helping them to do whatever has perked their interests. Their struggles may totally be a result of misalignment—they’re just in the wrong position.

#5 – Give them a break

People are terrible at taking breaks.

According to a report by Glassdoor, most people in the United States don’t use half of their allotted vacation time.

And you know what else?

Most people who take a vacation actually work on their vacation.

You’re probably thinking:

What does this have to do with volunteers?

Perhaps more than you think.

If people in America struggle with taking a vacation, then there’s a good chance some of your volunteers need to take a break. They won’t admit that they need a break. But here are some telltale signs that your struggling volunteers need a rest:

  • They appear irritated
  • They’re habitually tardy
  • They show a lack of enthusiasm
  • They’re experiencing personal or family struggles
  • They’re making constant mistakes
  • They’re clearly serving with a “glass is half-empty” kind of attitude

There are a number of reasons why your volunteers may be exhibiting these behaviors.


Perhaps they’ve been serving for months or years uninterrupted, and they’re just tired or burned-out. For others, life has thrown them a few curveballs and they’ve hit a couple of bumps along the way. They may just need to take a step away from serving. In either one of these situations, let them know that it’s okay to take a break. Jesus is building his church, and God will lead new volunteers to step up and take their place.

It’s time to raise the bar

There you have it.

Five ways you can motivate your volunteers:

1. Define the issue
2. Retrain
3. Build team chemistry
4. Find a new position
5. Give them a break

Before you wash your hands after trying one or more of these tactics, there’s one last thing you need to do: Follow-up.

With every one of these tactics, you must follow-up with the volunteers you worked with. You want to make sure that they’re thriving in their roles or they’re being re-energized by taking a break.

If you find out your volunteers continue to struggle, then you may need to ask them to step down. Confrontations are never fun. But avoiding an ongoing problem with your volunteers may lead to a more serious issue.

In the end, your goal is to motivate your volunteers by helping them serve Jesus. Follow these tips to make this as easy as possible.

Three Things Every Volunteer Needs to Know

Three Things Every Volunteer Needs to Know

The need for volunteers in church isn’t going away anytime soon. Even though people are busier than ever, churches still need volunteers to do the work of the ministry.

That’s why it’s always a great time to take a look at your volunteer ministry: how you recruit, how you train, and how you lead.

When we talk about volunteer training, it’s easy to think about handbooks and meetings.

But training your volunteers involves so much more than that.

Whether they are serving with guest services, family ministry, or the worship team, every volunteer in your church needs to know these three things.

#1 – The purpose and mission of the church.

Every volunteer needs to know why your church exists and what you’re trying to accomplish.

Your purpose is the eternal reason your church exists. It’s your deep sense of why. It’s the big-picture and the fundamental calling God has on your church. It might sound something like this:

  • We’re here to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus.
  • We help people love God and love others.
  • We make more and better disciples who make more and better disciples.

Each of those phrases is really big picture. But when you look at them closely, they are never going to really be accomplished. They are long-term, even eternal in nature.

You’re never going to call a meeting and say, “Hey everyone…there are no more potential disciples to make. We’re done with that. So, what’s next?”

Your purpose is like an anchor your church, but what that looks like today can be hard to grasp.

That’s why every church needs a second statement, a mission statement.

While your purpose statement is forever, your mission statement is about now. It’s what you are trying to specifically accomplish in this next season of ministry. If your purpose statement is really broad, your mission statement is specific.

Here’s an example.

NASA might say their purpose is to explore space. That’s their big picture, but it’s always going to be ahead of them. They are never really going accomplish that.

NASA’s current mission might be to land someone on Mars. That has a timeline and a deadline. They can measure progress and one day, they will check it off the list.

See the difference? Purpose is big, but mission is current.

Here’s another example.

A church might say their purpose is to help people far from God experience new life in Christ. That’s a “forever” purpose because it’s always going to out there.

That same church might say their current mission is to start a second campus in the net 24 months. That’s much more specific and in a way, it’s much more relatable.

I know some people use purpose, mission and vision differently, but don’t let the specific terminology confuse you. You need to clarify and communicate a big picture purpose but also a time-bound, specific mission.

#2 – How they fit with that purpose and mission.

Once your volunteers know the purpose and mission of your church, the next most important thing to clarify is where they fit.

Don Simmons and Steve Caton write, “People want to get involved where expectations are high. They want to know they play an important role in the work of the church. If you can’t validate them through the ministries of the church, they will find a place that does.”

Your volunteers must be able to draw a clear line from what they do to the purpose and mission of the church. They need to know what they do, but they need to know why it matters.

If you lead people, one of your most important roles is not just casting vision but casting clarity. Your people are looking to you to clarify their role.

Answer questions like…

  • What I do actually do?
  • When do I show up?
  • What training is required?
  • How long is my “term of service?

And beyond tasks, they need to continually hear stories about how their tasks connect to the greater story. Greeters need to know how saying hello to guests is connected to the purpose of your church.  Small group leaders need to know how their activities help the church with the current mission.

The best place to clarify this information is on a simple, one-page volunteer job description.  Every single volunteer who serves in your church needs one.

Clarity like this won’t keep people from serving; it will help them say yes. And clear expectations are a sign of value.

If you're a Church Fuel member, we have dozens of job descriptions available for you.

#3 – Where they go for help.

Lastly, every volunteer needs to know where to go if they have a question, concern, prayer request, need, or problem.  They need a single point of contact.

You can include this information on your volunteer job descriptions.

It’s also helpful to visualize your leadership structure by creating a volunteer org chart. Here’s one we made to organize our volunteer ministry.

This org chart let us visualize who was serving, who was leading them, and where we needed help. It helped us ensure that everyone serving had a volunteer leader responsible for their care.

  • Orange cards represented family ministry.
  • Yellow was the worship team.
  • Red was guest services.
  • And white was our new small group ministry.

Org charts aren’t just to show your direct reports; they are there to show your direct supports.

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 volunteers that will bring clarity and help begin to alleviate your frustrations.

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

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.

Four Ways to Communicate Better With Volunteers

Four Ways to Communicate Better With Volunteers

Have you ever sent an email to those who serve in your church and wondered how effective it was?

Most mass email communications are at their best with a 20-30% open rate.

You’ve probably noticed that emails sent through your Church Management Software (CMS) aren’t always opened, and that’s if they are even received without getting flagged as spam.

While there’s a place for CMS emails, there are also other tools that can help you engage with volunteers in ways that are more likely to reach them.

It may be time for your church to try a fresh way to communicate with volunteers.

Here are four tools that can help.

1. Text Messaging Services

A Dynmark research report found that text messages have a final read rate of 98%, and 90% of text messages are read within the first three seconds of being received.

Many people spend a lot of time on their smartphones throughout the day, making these devices an excellent way to reach out to volunteers in your church. Tools like Flocknote, Text In Church, Pastors Line, and SlickText allow you to send texts to volunteers quickly and easily.

You can use text messaging to remind volunteers about important meetings, alert them of schedule changes, or provide urgent inclement weather updates.

Many text messaging services also have the ability to integrate with other tools that your church may already be using, such as Church Community Builder or MailChimp.

2. GroupMe App

If you did a survey of the teenagers and young adults in your church, most of them have heard of the GroupMe app and are already using it to chat with groups of friends.

It’s a free smartphone app that allows people with various types of smartphones to communicate in one place. You can add events to the GroupMe calendar and set reminders. And for those who can’t or don’t want to download the app, it even works with normal SMS text messaging.

GroupMe is a great tool to try with a small group of volunteers, such as study group or youth leaders.

3. Facebook Group

To communicate with your church’s volunteers, meet them where they already are—on Facebook! Set up a private Facebook Group for volunteers and add people to it using their Facebook profiles.

Volunteers will get a Facebook notification when a new message is posted into the group. It’s a great way to create personal engagement within the group of volunteers.

A few creative uses:

  • Highlight a volunteer of the week
  • Share encouraging testimonies
  • Give birthday shout-outs
  • Post photos from volunteer gatherings
  • Ask engaging questions such as, “What was your favorite moment with the students this week?” or “Which new songs do you think we should learn and introduce to the congregation next?”

You could also provide volunteers with another opportunity to serve by giving a few of them the responsibility of managing and moderating the group.

4. E-Newsletters

Use a tool such as MailChimp, Vertical Response, or Constant Contact to create an email newsletter for specific volunteer groups that is separate from the church-wide newsletter.

You can link to where volunteers can sign up for meetings or to serve at events while also using the e-newsletter as an opportunity to share the impact of that particular ministry and have some fun highlighting stories and volunteers.

For example, send a bi-weekly e-newsletter to volunteers in the children’s ministry that includes a special story from a child or parent and a section to recognize a volunteer who recently did something special to help out.

Any of these resources are a great start to better communication with your church’s volunteers. Evaluate your volunteer teams and current communication needs to decide where text messaging, GroupMe, Facebook groups, or e-newsletters would be most helpful in your church. A fresh, effective way to communicate not only makes sure that important messages get to volunteers, but will also keep them involved and engaged.

3 Things Your Volunteers Think but Don’t Say

3 Things Your Volunteers Think but Don’t Say

I’m not on staff and I don’t get a paycheck.

I’m a volunteer at your church.

But I’ve been thinking about some things for a while now.

I don’t think I’m the only one.

In fact, many of us feel this way.

We probably won’t say this stuff out loud because we don’t want to complain about our church or cause any problems.

But you should know what we are thinking.

#1 – I wish people said “thanks” more often.

Me and my family are pretty busy. We’ve got full time jobs, the kids are playing sports and just managing the day-to-day stuff takes a lot of time. But we do love our church and we want to give our time.

I want to do things that matter for eternity, but eternity feels like a long way off. “Your treasure is in heaven” sounds a little bit like a cop-out for not noticing what I am doing here on earth.

Thank you notes and even little gifts energize me more than you realize. It’s silly, but I kept a thank you note you sent a couple of years ago. That little gesture meant a lot.

Even some of my friends who say “Don’t spend church money buying me a coffee mug” feel a little bit special when they drink out of that coffee mug.

I didn’t sign up because I wanted recognition, but if I’m being honest, there are plenty of times when I don’t know if what I do is noticed by anyone. I work, give, and sacrifice, at least by my definition, and I’d just like to hear a few words of affirmation. Hearing nothing makes me assume my contributions don’t matter.

Deep down, many of us are wondering if people in leadership really care about US or if we’re just being used to get a job done.

You may feel like you’re saying “thanks” a lot, but I don’t hear it enough. And the people I serve with would probably agree. We probably won’t complain about this out loud to you, but it’s what we are thinking.

#2 – We really don’t want to come to those training meetings.

I understand I need to know a few things and I know there’s some important information you need to make sure I hear.

But the training meetings we have during the week or after one of the services are tough to attend. I’ve already been at work for a whole day and trying to fit another thing into a busy week is just tough.

I know this info might be important, but the meetings are really not convenient.

I understand your predicament…no meeting will ever come at the perfect time for everyone. You have to make leadership choices and do what’s best for the group.

But the meetings are inefficient, too. Half of the people I serve with didn’t make the last training and all we did was go through a handout.

I’ve even got a few ideas that might work better.

  1. Shoot a video and just send it to me.  It doesn’t need to be fancy or have graphics or all that stuff. You can just shoot it from your phone and upload it to YouTube. You can tell me all the same stuff you were going to tell me in the meeting and I’ll watch it after the kids go to sleep.
  2. Just email me. This happens at work all the time. Believe me, it’s not just a church thing. I routinely go to meetings, leave, and think to myself “That whole meeting could have just been an email.” I know not everyone loves email, but it’s still more convenient than all of us driving up to the church.
  3. Try a webinar or a conference call.  I went to this online seminar from my computer the other day and it was great. I was able to learn several new things and even chat with the organizers. I didn’t have to leave my desk and when it was over, I got the recording. That could work well for us at church, too.

For what it’s worth, when we do have meetings (and I agree one or two throughout the year would be good…mostly just to see everyone and connect), it would really help if you had childcare.

#3 – We don’t want to commit to serve forever.

I have no plans to leave the church. We love it here.

But I’m a little scared to sign up for ANYTHING that doesn’t have an end date. Maybe it’s just a fear of commitment…I’ll own that.

Most of us feel this way.

If you’re asking us to serve in the middle school ministry, it would be really helpful if our tour of duty lasted one year. Or two. Or even three years…spanning a middle schooler’s entire career. The thing that matters is clarity.

You might think that asking us to serve specifically would weed out too many people, but I think the opposite is true. The clearer you make something, the more people will embrace it. We just want to know what we’re getting into.

When you give us clear job descriptions and show us that everything is planned out, it really increases our confidence in your leadership. It puts us at ease when we know that you’ve thought through things before asking us to join in.

Honestly, I think if you gave everyone an end date to their volunteer term, it would help more people embrace a start date. And I think most of us would agree to another term of service after this one is over, anyway.

These are three things I’ve been thinking about for a while. I hope you receive it in the spirit of helpfulness. I love our church.