Aside from the inconsistencies in preparation, presentation, and participation, I think weekly rotations are actually a "distraction from the best." I know a very humble, very godly man who oversees children's ministries in his church. At least twice in the last year, he has expressed the need for "more volunteers." In fact, this last time, he has described it as a "dire need." The problem isn't that they have more kids than ever before. The problem is that children's ministry has been replaced with getting enough volunteers to fill the slots on the schedule. It has grown to the point that the focus is no longer what is best for the kids, but what is best for the volunteers.
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A weekly rotation sounds like an ideal solution to "spread out the work," but it doesn't take much to derail the schedule. It requires us to recruit two or three times more volunteers than we actually need on a given Sunday, plus it does not guarantee freedom from burn-out. And before long, most of the energy is spent on getting warm bodies and figuring out how to schedule them. Soon, you have a volunteer or even the coordinator herself filling in for two, three, or more Sundays in a row and all they can think about is, "I'm tired of doing this every week. I haven't been in church for the last four weeks!"And, of course, there is the idea that Mr. Grober is here only because no one else wanted to do it that Sunday. That is the best we have to offer our children?
I have a testimony about my journey out of this cycle. One day I will share it. But for now, here are a few suggestions:
- Recruit to vision, not to need. Iimagine if children's church was regarded as "real church." Imagine if there were dedicated, sold-out volunteers who look forward to bonding with the kids week after week. Figure out what your ministry is about, what it looks like, and find volunteers that will buy in to that vision.
- Have a dedicated teacher. Normally, that would be the Children's Pastor or Director, but in any event, find a consistent teacher whose "job" is to prepare and present to the kids each and every week.
- Watch your language. The phrases used in our scenario above are actual quotes from volunteers and leaders: "don't want volunteers over burdened," "stuck with the kids," "haven't been in (real) church for a long time," etc. Don't talk about children's ministry as duty or obligation. "If nobody else comes forward, then (deep sigh) I guess I'll do it" (doesn't that just bless your heart?). Instead, tell the leadership, volunteers, the congregation, and yourself about this great adventure called "children's ministry."