Questions To Ask The References Of Kids Ministry Applicants


Safety and security are a BIG deal in Kids Ministry!  If the children are not safe and secure AND if the parents don’t feel like the kids are safe and secure, you may never even have an opportunity to minister to those children.  Safety and security should be a high priority for EVERY Kids Ministry.

Hopefully, each of you have a practice of requiring an application and background check for every volunteer who wants to work on your team.  Something that you may not do – ask for references.  On our application, we ask for three references of people NOT RELATED to the applicant.  If possible, we try to get at least one reference that is a former pastor (if they came from another church).

When we call those references, here are some questions we ask them about the applicant…

Questions we ask “Friends” of the applicant:

  • How long have you known this person?
  • In what capacity?
  • What is this person’s greatest strength?
  • What is this person’s greatest weakness?
  • Do you know of any habits or practices in this person’s life that would not be suitable for a person who leads children?
  • Do you know of any reason this person should NOT work as a leader with children?

Questions we ask “Former Pastors” of the applicant:

  • How long did they attend your church?
  • How long did they serve in ministry at your church?
  • Why did they leave your church?
  • Were they faithful in attendance?
  • Did they possess a spirit of cooperation and unity?

This may seem like “overkill,” but it is so important that we are thorough in processing and getting to know the person who is going to volunteering to work with the precious little ones in your ministry.  Every child is worth our BEST EFFORT in ensuring a safe and secure environment for them to receive the instruction from God’s Word.

What are some questions I missed?  Do you have other practices for “checking on” the applicants for Kids Ministry in your church?  Leave a comment and share it with the community!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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8 thoughts on “Questions To Ask The References Of Kids Ministry Applicants

  1. Question #8: Can you body slam a kid or give an atomic wedgie? This isn’t a required question but basically I want to know if they can have fun with kids, how they interact with the kids, and can they relate to them. Although this question doesn’t exactly give me clarity in finding out the things I want to know either. So with that said it’s been in my observation of them with their own kids and other events in life that help me to see their passion. Basically as I continue to ramble I just want to make sure they don’t hate kids!!! Someone telling you they have a passion and seeing a passion in them is different.

  2. We do background checks, but when it comes to leaders, I don’t turn many down. I would love to have a more rigorous application process for volunteers, but I’m pretty sure that if I did this the way I’d like and the way you suggest, I wouldn’t have any leaders. Am I too picky? What happens when you walked in to and “inherited” a congregation of adults with very little experience in serving with a full-hearted commitment?

    • Well, I can answer the second question easier than the first – Train them! Your volunteers (eventually) will be a reflection of what they see in you. If you inherit a group that is less than passionate, then raise your passion to the highest level – and watch them either meet that challenge or disengage from the team (read more about that in my post “Raising The Bar – Expecting More From Your Team

      As for your initial comment – I don’t turn many down either. It’s important to note that, although we definitely have a rigorous application process, it is not used to merely “weed out” applicants. Instead, it is used to inform me of the background of those who are joining my team. I will only “turn down” those who have a definite moral or legal issue that prevents them from serving. All others, I will have a heart to heart conversation about any concerns that I have and make a vow that we will help them grow in this area. The goal is not to make it more difficult to serve, but to make their service as productive and beneficial for them (and the Kingdom) as possible.

  3. Thanks for posting this and it will be very helpful as we revamp our volunteer onboard process. Would you be willing to share you volunteer application? I would love to see applications from other ministries.

  4. Great resource! Thanks Brian!

    A question I would also ask is, “Did they develop leaders to serve in the kids ministry?” Of course they need to be great at connecting with kids and running the events, but in order to build a ministry, they must raise leadership to do the same.

  5. You’ve asked the former pastor how long they served in ministry at that pastor’s church, but you didn’t ask in what capacity. I think I’d want to know whether or not they had already worked with kids, what age group and in what programs/venues, and what kind of training they had already been through. That would help me assess their existing skill/training level and know how to place them.
    This would also easily lead into the other questions- particularly about their spirit of cooperation/unity. (Which, by the way, is an excellent question.)

    • Well there is an embarrassing spelling error in that post. So sorry. I see no option to edit. I meant “assess,” not the other. Sorry about that.

  6. Brian,

    First off I am loving the picture of Michael Scott, and I think these questions are a great resource. Personally, I had not thought of getting references for the people in my Kid Min; however, I definitely will begin to and use these questions you’ve offered. I will be sharing this with my other friends that are in Kid Min as we are all in our first few years.