Wednesday, November 14, 2012


After 19 years of periodic children's ministry opportunities and 15 years as a regular Children's Pastor, I've often wondered what I would do differently. Being let go from children's ministries and being ever the student, I've asked myself this question in all seriousness. These are not the final answers, but they do represent a start.
There is something I need to get out of the way as I start this post.
For years, I believed a lie.  It was a lie I told myself, that ultimately interfered with the whole area of volunteer management.  The lie was this:
"Recruiting is one of my weaknesses."
I would tell myself this and I would tell others this.  But I was really confusing style with skill.  I have never had that charismatic '"x-factor" that propels people to follow me when I ask for help.  I beat myself up with the conclusion that I was "lousy at recruiting."  But the Lord (via my wife and some trusted team members) reminded me of some areas of growth and accomplishment, by His grace:
  • There have been distinct times in which major members of our team were recruited because I personally asked them (personal invites are more effective than public announcements).
  • Most of our volunteers had staying power.  In spite of the commitment, they still wanted to serve.
  • I managed to get 40-60 volunteers each year for VBS. I know how I did it...and the answer is the very reason why I really wasn't such a bad recruiter after all (but that's the subject of another post).
Since this is a series about doing things over, I would want to practice the art of recruiting in order to grow and improve in the area and making the recruiting more systematic.
Okay, now that I've got the volunteers, how do I go about turning them into leaders? Like most of our series, these are things that I either did infrequently or perhaps I was aware of them, but did not implement them.  The key word (as we learned last time) is "deliberate."  As I grow and learn, I want to do more and more things on purpose.  So in terms of "volunteers into leaders:"
  • Invest in one-on-one time with volunteers outside the ministry walls.  Even something as casual as a cup of coffee would be a great benefit to communication (obviously, for appearance and safety, the "one-on-one" time would be modified with female volunteers).
  • Provide regular, systematic training opportunities.  We always had great training times, but they were usually sporadic, more like, "hey, we haven't had a training event in a while." I would develop some kind of benchmark series of trainings, with clear goals for each one.
  • Make sure everyone has the big picture.  It is so easy to get caught up with the minutia of our particular area of service that we forget how it connects with the entire program.
  • Be more organized with the "next generation" of kid servants. I was serious about raising up the pre-teen and teens to serve in children's ministries, but the details of organizing and monitoring the squad often fell to the side. If I did it again, I would delegate their management to one of my other leaders.
  • Develop a select group that knows how to "do the stuff," so that if something happened, everything would continue without major disruption.
  • Program, push, and promote vision.  Just like the big picture shows how everything fits together, the vision shows what the program looks like.
  • Disciple, mentor, train, and invest in one young person who may be interested in becoming a children's minister.
What things do you do in your children's ministry to recruit, train, and develop your volunteers into leaders?

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