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:
- You need more volunteers now.
- 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:
- Be organized
- Clarify expectations
- 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.