Do you feel like recruiting volunteers is a never-ending task? Do you dread the “no’s”? Do you feel like people avoid you because they think you’re going to ask them to serve? These are all too familiar to most Children’s Ministry leaders.
Volunteers serving out of duty rather than delight is a stark contrast to most Children’s Ministry leaders’ experiences! As Children’s Ministry leaders, we delight in seeing the gospel shared, praises sung, friendships built, and fun happen while serving, and it’s hard to understand why everyone doesn’t see it that way. So, therein lies the struggle for many of us: volunteer recruitment ranks among the hardest parts of our ministry. Sadly, there is no magic formula for producing a waitlist of outstanding, highly qualified, can’t-wait-to-sign-up volunteers. But here are 5 P’s—prayer, perspective, presence, preparation, and pursuit—that perhaps will be helpful in producing in us patience, trust, and graciousness, readying us to keep up the good work of asking for volunteers.
Pray and pray some more! God has all the resources, so we can present our needs to Him and trust in His provision. Invite others to pray specifically for the needs within your ministry. Boldly, ask God to give you and your team eyes to see the people in your church family who would be willing volunteers and give you eyes to see those with potential to grow into great volunteers. Praying first and continually creates a heart dependent on God to provide, and that dependence helps shift our perspective.
Perspective shifts when we trust God to provide generously for all our ministry needs to do the good works He has prepared—and this all includes volunteers. We see people not as slot-fillers, but as valuable church family members gifted to serve one another. Perspective enables us to receive “no’s” graciously, think creatively, and remember the “why” behind serving our children. When we remember the joy of serving children, it shapes the way we invite others to serve with us. An invitation to volunteer with our children is an invitation to learn, worship, and plant seeds that God will water and grow into deep roots of faith. It helps transform our volunteer’s perspective, too, from duty to delight.
Presence within the church family—easier said than done. Since we are often serving with the children, we can struggle to find time to participate with the whole church family. Our presence within the church family helps us build relationships, and not just for recruiting volunteers. Our active participation within the church family in corporate worship, Bible studies, and mission opportunities sustain us for our calling to serve the children and guards us from becoming siloed within our ministry. Your presence with your church family benefits you and them and eventually can help deepen your well from which to draw volunteers . . . or faithful prayer partners.
Preparation shows your volunteers you care. Communicating clearly, providing materials, and training them well communicates you value them, their time, and the children they are serving. Preparing your volunteers well sets them up for success and takes the burden or anxiety out of serving, thus creating opportunity for delight to overtake duty. As you prioritize preparing your volunteers well through encouragement, prayer, thanks, as well as actual materials, activity ideas, and listening to their needs, hopefully, they will find volunteering easier than expected. When you’ve made it surprisingly easier and a volunteer has a great experience, you’ve made it more likely for that volunteer to recruit another volunteer. Volunteer-to-volunteer word-of-mouth advertising builds a culture around serving with children that is inviting and welcoming.
Pursuing volunteers can be the most daunting part. The fear of rejection is real, and “no’s” are discouraging and can feel personal. However, when we’ve cultivated a perspective of trust in God’s provision through prayer and an appreciation of the church family by being present with the body and prepared for success, we can confidently ask for volunteers, trusting the “no’s” and the “yeses” as part of God’s plan. Our list of those to ask can be creative including the “old faithful” and “unexpected.” Invite them with anticipation of God providing exactly who is needed to serve His children well.
Keep up the good work and be excited about inviting others in to experience the delight of serving our children!
Visit Laura’s training video on this subject on our children’s ministry website.