Do you have volunteers in your ministry who serve once a month? Just about every ministry does. While we would all probably prefer to have every volunteer serve every week, our ideal is not often our reality.
Volunteers who serve once a month meet a great need and make up a great deal of the kidmin volunteer force.
There are a variety of reasons some volunteers may only be able to serve once a month. For example, many churches only have one service. When you only have one service, it is not possible to have the same people serve in kidmin every single week.
Even if you find people who are willing, it is not healthy for them—or your ministry—in the long run.
Church plants and revitalizations have to build up a serving culture. So new congregations or congregations who are undergoing great change may not have very many people who are ready to commit to serving weekly.
If you’ve paid any attention to what researchers are saying, you know that church attendance patterns are much different than they used to be.
Sam Rainer says, “an ‘active’ member was once considered someone who came twice, or even three times a week. However, today an active member is considered someone who comes twice a month.”
If people are only attending twice a month, they certainly aren’t going to commit to serve every week.
There are some people who legitimately can’t commit to serve more than once a month. For some, serving monthly is a big first step. These positions can bring great value to our children’s ministries and can engage people who otherwise wouldn’t be serving at all.
Who Is Willing
What groups of people might be willing to serve once a month?
Newbies to the Church
A once-a-month commitment is great for someone who is fairly new to the church.
They are able to meet other people, and you are able to get to know them. After attending your church for six months or so, recruit new members to take a light step into children’s ministry.
Many parents feel they just don’t have the time to commit to serve every single week. By having a monthly option, parents can play a part without feeling overwhelmed.
You may also be able to help them fall in love with serving in your ministry.
Parents whose kids have grown up typically feel that they have already served their time in kids’ ministry. However, you can often encourage them to serve once a month. They remember what it was like to be young and need a break from their babies on Sunday.
One of our seventy-year-old ladies stopped me one day and said, “I sure love rocking babies. Is there any way I could do that at church?” Yes ma’am, absolutely!
We’ve discovered that many of our senior adults don’t live near their grandchildren. Serving in kidmin allows them to connect with kids. They may not have the energy to serve weekly, but many can do once a month.
Engaging the Once-A-Month Volunteer
There are pools of people to recruit from within your congregation. When you get them in place, there are several best practices for engaging monthly volunteers and helping them stick around.
#1: Communicate Really Well
Because they are only there once a month, it is going to be much easier for them to forget. Create a good reminder system. You also need a very clear system for how volunteers communicate if they are going to be out.
#2: Consider Having a “Captain” for Each Week
It can get overwhelming communicating and keeping up with a different team each week. So consider designating one volunteer who can help coordinate the volunteers for the assigned week.
The captain can help you send reminders, find subs when needed, and connect with and care for your volunteers.
#3: Schedule One or Two More Volunteers Than You Really Need
Chances are high that someone won’t show up. If you already have more scheduled, you won’t have to scramble to find subs.
#4: Have Nametags, T-Shirts, or Some Visible Identifier
Help parents (and other volunteers) know that they are official volunteers.
#5: Don’t Undersell Their Responsibilities
“Oh, all you have to do is show up once a month and hang out.” That sentence may or may not get more people to sign up, but it is likely false advertising. Therefore, be clear about what your expectations are and what volunteers will need to do.
#6: Communicate Value to the Volunteers
Monthly volunteers may feel that their roles don’t really matter. So make sure they know that they aren’t second-class volunteers. Moreover, provide the same care, encouragement, and training that weekly volunteers get.
When a family joins the church or someone gets baptized, help volunteers see the role they played. Share stories of wins and successes.
The more you help these volunteers feel like they are part of the bigger picture, the more likely it will be that they stay on your team.
#7: Watch for Additional Ways to Involve Them
They may not be able to serve weekly, but this can be a great group to recruit from for special events or when special needs arise. We tend to over-ask our most committed volunteers.
Spread the love by looking for new ways to periodically involve monthly volunteers.
#8: Build Relationships
The more relationally connected your volunteers are, the longer they will stay. Build relationships with them yourself, but also look for ways to facilitate their building relationships with each other.
Work hard to help your ministry feel like a family working together for the same mission, rather than a bunch of people who are just showing up to fulfill an obligation.
#9: Don’t Be Afraid to Challenge Them to Take the Next Step of Commitment
You will begin to observe monthly volunteers who obviously have a gift or a passion for serving kids. Don’t be afraid to give them a little push to move forward in their level of serving.
“No” is always an acceptable answer. Don’t be afraid of it. In addition, remember that your role as the leader is to spiritually challenge those that God has put in your care.
Without guilt or pressure, help monthly volunteers see ways they can deepen their commitment when they are ready.
Your monthly volunteers serve a vital role in your ministry and are a great resource for future development.
Making an intentional effort to engage them will benefit your ministry for years to come.