How does your schedule look for this weekend?
That question can strike fear in the hearts of many children’s ministry leaders. We measure how our weekend will go by the number of open spots in our schedule. We may even measure our self-worth by those empty spaces.
And of those filled spaces, how many of those leaders have given you cause to be concerned about their level of commitment? They may have a record of calling in sick at the last moment. Or maybe you can’t have them lead a group or interact with parents because you are concerned with their attitude or lack of enthusiasm for the ministry.
The fact is, volunteering has been on the decline in the last three years. I would compare it to a slow leak—something you might not notice it right away. But as people start to lose interest, check out of serving, pull back their scheduled time, and eventually feel “called to focus on themselves,” our ministries suffer.
As more people check out, it’s easy as a ministry leader to want to check out too.
Check Back in with Your Volunteers
The start of a new ministry year is a great time to “repair” those leaks! Even if your own or your volunteers’ enthusiasm and vision for ministry feels low and slow, you can help your team fill back up and check back in.
Check back in with God.
What is the focus of your weekly emails to your teams or your pre-service meetings? Do you use those tools to fix their eyes on Jesus, or to fix their eyes on the curriculum?
While the curriculum is important, I would speculate that if you put the main focus on God in those precious moments, your kids would encounter God, just as your leaders have each week. And isn’t that the goal?
I have yet to see a mission statement that says “Our mission is to get through the small group questions and a craft each week.” However, I do see a lot of mission statements that state, “Our mission is to make passionate disciples of Jesus,” or “to help our kids meet Jesus.”
Helping your leaders to be passionate disciples and to meet Jesus, will multiply the impact of those mission statements!
This also means you may need to make sure your volunteers are attending church services and engaging in their own spiritual growth. Be sure to check in with them about their own spiritual growth. And while you’re at it, check in on your own growth and engagement in the church body as well.
Check back in with you.
Many volunteers slowly leave because they don’t feel connected to the person leading them. They want to feel connected to the ministry leader. Volunteers need to know that you’re not simply viewing them as a means to an end—they may need to know you care about them.
It is a good practice to occasionally ask the question, “What is it like to be on the other side of me?”
How does it feel to be led by you?
I have encouraged our staff team to make it a regular practice to use a simple volunteer “check in” tool. We ask four questions of our volunteers:
- What is going well?
- What do you have questions or concerns about?
- What is not going well or is frustrating to you?
- How can we pray for you?
These four questions allow volunteers to express where they are, and it allows a personal response from the ministry leader.
Making an Impact in Your Children’s Ministry
This guide was created to help you dive into some of the topics facing your ministries today and lead into why your curriculum matters and how to choose the right one depending on your needs.
How to Guard Yourself from Ministry Burnout
How to Guard Yourself from Ministry Burnout
Check back in with themselves.
The other day our Executive Pastor raised a question, “Why does why ride shotgun to what?”
Think about that question for a moment—is your why in the driver’s seat of what you do? Or is the what—the programs, the weekly tasks—driving your ministry?
For some people, tasks are invigorating—they will happily check boxes all day long.
But eventually, most people they need a reason for what they are doing. What is your why? Can you define it for yourself? Have you ever brought your volunteers back to a place where they remember what motivates them in ministry?
A new ministry year is a perfect time to rally your volunteers and ask them to write down their reason for volunteering in kids’ ministry. If they can’t recall why, remind them. If you have it, look up their original application where you asked them why they wanted to serve.
Put the why you serve kids back in the driver’s seat for your volunteer leaders!
Check back in with their team.
No man is an island in children’s ministry. Our volunteers should be in community with people who serve alongside them. When a volunteer feels connected to the people they serve alongside, they are more likely to stay engaged in the ministry for a longer period of time.
Create spaces where people feel the camaraderie of a team.
A few years ago, we realized that because we train all of our volunteers in safety, security, and other procedures when we onboard them, we should use our annual volunteer training as a rally point to cast vision and encourage connection.
We now train via an online platform when we need to communicate policy and procedure. That allows us to use times we gather volunteers to cast vision, encourage, have fun together, and connect volunteers to others who serve and have the same passions and calling they do.
As we move into a new season of ministry, these simple ways to check in will help you keep your volunteer team from checking out!