Programming has begun, or if you lead year-round, it’s been an ongoing adventure. As things fall into place and you continue to observe young lives learning, growing, and changing, you might want to consider taking some time to assess how your volunteer ministry is doing. 

Why assess? What is the point of evaluating a program that is working, or getting the job done? 

The answer can be as simple, or as complex, as you’d like. For me, I am always looking for ways to improve the work I am doing. This incredible time of transition in our world has introduced many opportunities to make changes. My guess is that for many leaders, the task of finding volunteers and getting things up and running again was time-consuming. So now I challenge you to take a deep breath and commit to looking closely at your volunteer plan and how it’s really doing.  

Step 1: What Do You Have? 

Sit down with yourself, any staff members you may have, and/or trusted volunteers in your program. Include both seasoned and brand-new volunteers on this team. Gather together in whatever way makes the team comfortable and list out every single volunteer position that currently exists in your program.   

You might want to include:  

  • Number of leaders for each grade level 
  • Greeters 
  • Check-in team 
  • Administrative leaders 
  • Special occasion leaders 
  • Security team 
  • Snack crew 
  • VBS team (in its entirety) 
  • Worship team 

This is simply a list of suggestions to get you started. Every program will have different volunteer opportunities. The important thing is to write down absolutely every one that exists within your ministry. 

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Step 2: What Do You Need?  

Take a break and step away from this first list. If the weather is nice, get outside and take a walk. As you walk, connect with God through prayer and ask for guidance as you begin to assess what you truly need for your program moving forward.  

Loving God, You provide us with so much, and wow are we thankful. Please equip us with Your will as we prepare to reshape this program for the children in our community. Help us hear You as we pray. Amen. 

If you’re working together with your team on this, I challenge everyone to enjoy this quiet time in prayer. Here’s a suggestion if you’d like to use it: Loving God, You provide us with so much, and wow are we thankful. Please equip us with Your will as we prepare to reshape this program for the children in our community. Help us hear You as we pray. Amen. 

The trick is to take the time to quiet your mind and listen for what God has to tell you. If you’re not able to take a walk outside, separate throughout the building you’re in as an alternative. The point is to take the break, still your mind, pray, and listen. 

When you gather back together again, without discussion, just start listing every volunteer position you’d like to have. Stress that this is a wish list, something to dream big about if there were no obstacles at all.  

Step 3: Compare and Create 

Looking at both lists, how are they similar? Where are the differences? Engage in a discussion that will determine the direction your ministry is heading in regard to your volunteers.  

Be aware of how you are feeling as you work through this process. Don’t be afraid of change, especially if you’ve been running this program for many years and are comfortable, or if this is your first year and you are brand new. I remember filling some big shoes when I started as Children’s Ministry Director for my church. It was daunting because the program was already considered a success. But I had my own ideas, and I started with my very own volunteer assessment.  

Don’t let the fear of losing volunteers hold you back from making needed changes. 

As you create new roles to fulfill the dreams of the program you are creating, keep the needs of the children you serve at the front of your mind. Revisit your mission statement and the values your community is aspiring to achieve.  

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Step 4: Communicate 

Once decisions for a new direction are made IF you choose to make any changes, be sure to openly communicate with your existing volunteer team. If a job description is changing, you absolutely should let the current volunteers know the exact new expectations. Do not assume they will be okay with changes. Most will likely be just fine, but they should have the opportunity to explain why they are not, and they might choose to step away from that volunteer role.  

If this happens, I suggest arranging a face-to-face meeting if possible, but minimally a phone call should happen. Listen to their concerns; and if it is in their best interests to leave that position, work with them to find a new one that better suits their needs. Don’t let the fear of losing volunteers hold you back from making needed changes.  

Step 5: Implement 

Once you’ve assessed, dreamed, and created a plan, it’s time to put it into action. Be sure to give yourself a timeline to make this happen. It’s also important to give yourself grace as you move forward. Take your time, meet with the other leaders on staff at your church, check in with your supervisor, and I am always a big fan of reaching out to other kid’s ministry leaders in your community and the greater church community. All of these resources can be great tools to lend you support, encourage your dreams, and even share tangible ideas on how to implement your goals. 

The children and families you serve will be blessed by you!