Seasons of Nurturing Volunteers—

Psalm 1:3

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

 Seasons are a wonderful guide to our ministry year. You plan events and activities for each season of your church—fall events, Advent focus, winter fun, spring flings, and summer VBS. The rhythm of your family ministries includes yearly events for your children and parents. So, why not use the same seasonal themes to nurture your volunteers? It’s a natural way to keep your leadership fresh and encouraged.

Our volunteer teams are investing into the lives of our children, and we need to . . .

  • Feed and protect them to thrive as volunteers;
  • Support, train, and equip them for ministry; and
  • Build them up, cherish, cultivate, sustain, and encourage them to serve the Lord with gladness.

Let’s start with the fall. Fall can be a time of uncertainty, negligence, and apprehension. New ministry leaders and teachers might be nervous and unsettled for the first few weeks, unsure of how it all works together.

Encouraging notes, small tokens for classroom, fall treats (e.g., pumpkin spice anything), emails and texts can be used to keep connected and are meaningful. Check to make sure that your volunteers have all the supplies they need. Step in and help with discipline and other distractions. If teaching and serving is a change in their Sunday morning schedule, make it easier for them and have coffee and snacks. Comment on their service—what you see, what the kids are learning. And let them know you will always be praying for them in this season of change.

Winter comes along and it’s cold and icy outside, so we encourage them to protect themselves from bitterness, difficulty, and biting winds. Classes are becoming routine and can become stale so use holidays for special treats—hot chocolate, ornaments, and gift cards to warm them up and greet them. Appreciate their commitment to be there and serve them as they serve others. Maybe ask them to share a story, a relationship, a budding moment when a lesson was well-received. Keep them in front of your pastoral staff and church prayer teams and continue to send them warm thoughts.

Spring—a season of hope and anticipation, a time of new beginnings, new patterns of life, new ways of listening and loving others—arrives, just in time. is a favorite time to reaffirm your commitment to volunteers—help with classroom spruce up or spring cleaning, give them new and fresh encouragement to finish strong. Cultivate a team of volunteers who teach for life. Don’t forget to plan to honor your volunteers and appreciate them with parents and students. Pray for the fruit God is growing in their lives and the lives of their students.

Summer begins, and our volunteers take the time off from ministry. It’s a relaxed time for your leaders to rest, refresh, and renew as they enjoy time with family and friends. Remind them of God’s faithfulness to them through their time of serving in ministry.

Summer is also a time to recruit new and returning volunteers. They have had a relaxed summer schedule with their family and are ready to commit to long- or short-term service in the next year.

Make a plan for your ministry needs and calendar, including seasons of encouraging and nurturing your volunteers. Don’t forget the plan to train them. Train them how to use your curriculum as well as the policies and procedures of your church. Feed them food, commit to pray for them, build them up as servants to the kingdom of God, the church, and the parents and children in your ministry. Each season is a time to find small tokens of love and appreciation to bless your volunteers for all they are investing into the lives of your children and ministry.

I Timothy 1:5

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Betsy Palm is in a new role as Family Care Coordinator at Valley Presbyterian in Madison, Alabama. Her ministry is to connect with kids and encourage them in their faith, helping them to Know, Believe and Follow Christ. It is also keeping parents and families informed and included in ministry opportunities. Betsy and Kevin, her husband of 40 years, have three daughters, two sons-in-love, and two adorable grandsons: Hank and James. Betsy is a 2019 Certification Graduate.