6 Tips for Attracting Children’s Ministry Volunteers
Recruiting, developing, and retaining volunteers for your children’s ministry is no small task. If you’ve been working in a children’s ministry for any amount of time, you understand what an important role volunteers play in the lives of your kids. They interact, lead, and shape these young minds and help make your gatherings safe and possible.
Finding and keeping volunteers engaged can be tricky business. Especially in children’s ministry, it can feel like you’re competing with other teams for volunteers and like your dependable people are burning out. Here are 6 tips for developing a team of volunteers that help your children ministry run and your kids grow in Christ for the long term:
1) Know Your Vision
In your ministry, you’re doing more than babysitting kids while their parents are in the main service. You are introducing children to biblical truths that will shape their lives. It’s a big responsibility. When you’re clear on your vision, you can share it with your congregants and find those whose hearts align with what you’re doing in the children’s ministry. If you don’t have a clear vision outlined already or your current vision feels stale or outdated, spend some time praying and working with your fellow pastors to build a statement that resonates with what you’re doing in your ministry. This should be something that you’ll be proud to share with your volunteers both present and future. After all, you’re not asking people to be warm bodies for an hour on Sundays. You’re inviting them to share God’s love, truth, and goodness with the next generation.
2) Honor Ministry Wins on a Large Scale
Make it regular practice to showcase the exciting things that happen in your ministry during the main service. Whether it’s an incredible week at Vacation Bible School, verses or songs the children have memorized, or honoring your faithful current volunteers, these things deserve to be celebrated in the main service. Plus, when your congregation sees the good work happening in the children’s ministry, those who feel called or moved by your mission will have something to respond to.
3) Extend Actionable Invitations
People are more likely to get involved in anything if they are directly invited. Different levels of invitations can all be effective. When you are spotlighting the children’s ministry in the main service, always include a call to action for interested adults to plug in and serve and be part of whatever great thing they just saw. Follow up with interested parties with more direct messages via email or handwritten postcards.
Specific, personal invitations are always the most impactful. If you see someone get really into the children’s concert or engaging with children in a gentle way, go out on a limb and ask them if they’d be interested in joining your ministry. The worst they could do is say no, but at best, you’re offering them the opportunity to step into God’s calling for them.
4) Provide Supportive Onboarding and Training
Volunteers thrive when they know what’s expected of them and feel confident in executing their roles. If you don’t already have one, consider developing an onboarding program for new volunteers that introduces them to your ministry, your goals and culture, expectations, and any additional resources to help prepare them for showing up for the kids. If you have the means to invest, TrainedUp and Wonder Ink are both great resources to guide your new volunteers through onboarding and preparation for service.
5) Prevent Burnout
The best way to run short of volunteers is to overwork the ones you have. Of course, if you’re already feeling the strain of being understaffed, it’s hard to provide relief to the volunteers you do have. God honors our rest, especially when we dare to rest when it seems like we can’t afford to— remember the commandment to take a sabbath? Honor rest and trust in its value by scheduling time-off into your volunteers schedules. Even if you feel like you need to, don’t book a volunteer for every Sunday in a month.
For long term growth, it’s important to take consistent inventory of your leaders’ morale. This helps you understand what is going well, what’s not, and what kind of support your volunteers need.
Once you know, you can take action based on their feedback. Listening is step one, acting is step two. It helps make change and build trust between you and your volunteers. For example, maybe your ministry is really good at giving your volunteers recognition, but perhaps they don’t really care that much. Instead, what really matters to them might be ongoing training or 1-1 development.
Maybe they have ideas or want to lean into more responsibility in a certain area, like worship or arts and crafts. You don’t know these things until you ask. And when you can help your volunteers lead into and further develop the things they are gifted at and passionate about, the more satisfied they’ll be and the more your ministry will thrive. It’s a win-win.
Ultimately, be sure to pursue prayer as much if not more than you pursue volunteers. God is at work in your children’s ministry and he will lead those to you that you need. While it’s wonderful to be proactive and practical about searching for solutions, remember that ultimately God has your back.
Children’s pastors, thank you for investing in our children and leading them in God’s love. The work you do is so important and does not go unnoticed. At Motion Worship, we’re praying that your needs are met in full and exceeded beyond what you can ask or imagine.
About the Author
Emma Tarp is a writer and worship leader based in Minneapolis, MN. On her best days, she's highlighter-deep in a good book or teaching herself to sew. On her other best days, she's helping passionate folks and inspired businesses put words to their work. Find out more at emmatarp.com.