3 Things I Tell EVERY Volunteer

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Part of the process for joining our Kids Ministry team is a personal sit-down interview with me, the Kids Pastor.  I want to personally know every person who serves on our team – whether that is in an up-front or behind-the-scenes capacity.  During this interview, I always stress three important principles that I hope will guide their decisions while serving in ministry:

1)  Always Strive For Excellence

We try to live Colossians 3:23 on a daily basis:  “Whatever work you do, do it with all your heart. Do it for the Lord and not for men.”  In every part of Kids Ministry, our goal is EXCELLENCE.  That means we arrive early, we give 110% energy during service, and we go above and beyond what would be “expected of us.”  When you have a lesson to teach, skit to perform, or song to sing – you are expected to practice and be well-prepared.  No “winging it!”  God deserves our best, and so do the children.

2)  Never forget:  “The little eyes are always watching.”

We have over 800 kids that attend our church regularly.  It’s impossible to go ANYWHERE in our city without running into one of them.  Jesus said in Matthew 18:6: “But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.”  We have to be conscious of every word, action, reaction, and attitude we display whether we are at church, in the grocery story, or at the movies.  You never know when one of these kids’ eyes are on you.  You want to set the RIGHT example for them – whether intentionally or unintentionally.

This goes for Social Media posts as well.  I remind our leaders that the parents of the children in our church (and, sadly some of the kids themselves) are on Social Media.  I want my leaders to make sure that EVERY post reflects the character of Christ.  I ask them to refrain from “rants,” pictures, jokes, etc. that may seem to be the norm on Social Media.  As a leader of children, I want them to realize the impact that a seemingly “harmless” (yet inappropriate) post can cause.  I don’t want them to do anything that would damage their reputation, their leadership, or the Kingdom.

3)  Ministry Moments Can Happen At ANY Time

Don’t think that ministry can only happen in the Kids’ Ministry Service Time.  You never know when God will open a door for you to minister to a child.  You might see the child in the Party Zone sitting by themselves, and you can go over and talk to them and cheer them up.  You might see the child walking through the church halls and can tell they need encouragement.  You might even feel like God is leading you to send the child a card during the week to let them know you are praying for them.  There are MANY opportunities to make a difference in a child’s life.  Look for those ministry moments, both inside and outside the service.

I share these three things with EVERY person who serves in Kids Ministry.  How about you?  What are the principles that you hope will guide the decisions of your team as they minister to His children?  Please SHARE those in the comments section of this post!

Do You Struggle Getting Volunteers For Your Ministry?

volunteer-breakthrough
Do you struggle getting volunteers for your ministry?  If you do, you are NOT alone!  Survey after survey tells us that recruiting and keeping volunteers is one of the biggest struggles for EVERY Kids Ministry Leader.  Well, I have an incredible opportunity for you that will help change that statistic.

My friend, Ryan Frank, was a Children’s Pastor for 15 years and is currently the CEO/Publisher at KidzMatter.  He has created a FREE 4-part video series on how to recruit and keep amazing volunteers.  The video series is called “Volunteer Breakthrough.”  In this video series, Ryan unpacks 10 Laws he has discovered that help create dynamic volunteer teams!  You’re going to love it.

You can get this video series for FREE just by clicking the image at the top of this post.  You don’t want to hesitate!  Why am I so passionate about this?  It’s because I have known Ryan for over ten years.  He and I have done trainings together, traveled together, ministered together, and he is one of my best friends in ministry.  I have seen the fruit of what God is doing through Ryan’s life – and it is changing the world!

You are VERY lucky to be able to get some of this RICH content for free.  I am thankful that Ryan has offered this to my blog readers.  Take advantage of it, because I don’t know how long it will last!

Ryan Frank, CEO/Publisher at Kidzmatter

 

3 Reasons You Need To STOP Telling Everyone You Need Help!

HELP

Picture this:  It’s an average Sunday Morning in church in Anytown, USA.  The kids are bouncing off the walls, the crowd is buzzing, and the energy is palpable! Suddenly, the silence is broken with a booming voice echoing through the halls. It’s the voice of the Children’s Ministry Director.  She’s talking to a group of people whom she sees as possible volunteers.  Then, the words come out – “We need HELP!  We are overwhelmed!  We have so many kids and not enough workers!  HELP US!”

This is perhaps THE most ineffective way to recruit new team members.  There is nothing worse than a Children’s Ministry Director standing up in front of the congregation and saying, “We are so overwhelmed.  We HAVE to have help!  PLEASE HELP US!”

Here are three reasons why that tactic is generally ineffective:

  1. It sends the wrong message to the audience. – The audience doesn’t hear “Things are so hopping and amazing in Kids Ministry” when they hear you say, “We need help!”   They most likely hear, “We don’t have it together.  We are drowning.  We are desperate!”
  2. You are talking them out of helping before you ever even ask. – This type of approach makes the would-be recruit think, “There must be a reason they don’t have enough workers.  Obviously, no one wants to work with them.”
  3. Nobody wants to board a sinking ship. – When you recruit from a “need”, it does not inspire anyone to join your team.  It engenders fear in them and they want no part of it.

NEVER use the phrase, “No one wants to help!” OR “I can’t get anyone to help me!”  That’s a lot like my son, who when he has something he wants to ask me, will often begin his question by saying, “I know you are going to say NO, but…”  Guess what?  I immediately say, “No!”  I figure there must be a reason that he THINKS I am going to say NO.  So, I just beat him to the punch.

Rather than recruit from a NEED, recruit from an opportunity!  Explain to those would-be volunteers that, as a result of what God is doing in your Children’s Ministry, an opportunity has arisen.  Let them know you have been praying about who the person should be to serve in this area.  Tell them you felt led to talk to them because you feel that they have the right gift mix to be able to make a Kingdom difference in the lives of these kids.  Now, THAT is a recruitment strategy straight out of Matthew 9:37-38 —

Jesus said to his disciples,“The harvest is great, but the workers are few.   So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”  

Do you ever catch yourself recruiting from a NEED and “asking for help?”  What is one thing you can do this week to change that?  Leave a comment and join the conversation!

3 Keys To Adding MORE Volunteers To Your Ministry Team

Recruiting Volunteers

It’s a question I get on a regular basis:  “How do you get folks in the church to volunteer when they think it is the Children’s Pastor’s job to do the ministry?”

This is one of the most difficult tasks of a Kidmin Leader – Recruiting Volunteers.  I can tell you, there is no magic formula.  The only way to recruit successfully is by CONTINUOUS hard work and adherence to a few key principles.  However, there are three important keys that I live by.   Hopefully they will help you to build a strong team of leaders to serve the children of your church.

Keys To Adding MORE Volunteers To Your Ministry Team:

1)  Don’t recruit from a NEED, rather recruit from an OPPORTUNITY.

There is nothing worse than a Children’s Ministry Director standing up in front of the congregation and saying, “We are so overwhelmed.  We MUST have help!  PLEASE HELP US!“  That tells the person listening:  “There must be a reason no one is working with them.”

NEVER use the phrase, “No one wants to help! OR I can’t get anyone to help me!”  That’s like my son starting off a question, “I know you are going to say NO, but…”

Rather than moan about how much we need help, choose to celebrate the growth and excitement of your Kids Ministry.  Don’t talk about what you DON’T have, talk about what you DO have – opportunities for the member of your church to make an eternal impact on a soul for whom Christ died.

2)  Recruit from the VISION of your ministry.

Start by raising the value of children’s ministry inside your church.   Share stories in church services about life change in children or have volunteers share stories about how their lives have been changed.  Serving in children’s ministry is an opportunity to honor God—not a duty or a task (Col. 3:23).

You are recruiting by giving people an opportunity to be a part of what God is doing in the lives of the children of your church.  Explain to them, “God is going to accomplish His plan in the lives of  the children in our church.  The question is not ‘WILL God do it?’ The question is ‘WILL YOU be a part of it?’”

3)  Recruit One-On-One and Face-to-Face.

Rather than putting a blurb in the bulletin, a video announcement, or a pulpit spot from your Senior Pastor, recruit by approaching people one-on-one and having a meaningful conversation with them.

Pray ahead of time who God is preparing to serve (Luke 10:22).  Once He leads you to someone, approach them.  Don’t just walk up in the hallway at church – that doesn’t communicate value to someone.  Instead, invite them to lunch, call them on the phone, or go out to eat with them after church.

Explain to them that as a result of what God is doing in your Children’s Ministry, an opportunity has arisen.  You have been praying about who the person should be to serve in this area.  You felt led to talk to them because you feel that they have the right gift mix to be able to make a Kingdom difference in the lives of these kids.

I know that adding volunteers to your team is a lot of work!  But, I can honestly tell you that EVERY BIT of that work is WORTH IT!!  Get out there and build your team so you can win the lost!!!

What about you?  What are some of your biggest key principles that you follow when it comes to recruiting?  Share with us in the comments section!

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!

What Do You Consider A “WIN” For Your Volunteers?

This past week, I was asked by a fellow Kids Pastor – “What do you consider a WIN for your volunteers?” I shared with him my thoughts and thought I would share them with you as well.

Kid-Connection – When a volunteer gets to the point where their main focus when they are in Kids Church (or other area of Kidmin) is to connect with the kids that are present, rather than the other adults that are present, then we have a WIN!  We push our team to engage every child they can, learn their name, and find out what their spiritual needs are.  When a volunteer does this on a regular basis, then I know we have moved them to the next level.

Faithfulness – When a volunteer exhibits consistent faithfulness in attendance, is on time (early), and gives their all to their ministry assignment, – that is a huge win!

Growing Skill Level – When a volunteer is consistent to our volunteer training events and is growing in their ministry skill – WIN!

Prayer Focus – When a volunteer prays regularly for the kids they influence and their fellow team members – BIG win!

Team-Builder – When a volunteer consistently tells others about what God is doing in Kidmin and is a monster-recruiter for the ministry, that is a HUGE win!

These are ALL areas we consistently work on and are seeking to move each volunteer forward in each area.

What about you?  What are some WINS that you are consistently shooting for with your volunteer team?  Leave a comment below…

Kids Ministry F.A.T. C.A.T.S.

 

The last few posts have been about the importance of building a team, but once you have made the choice to do ministry as a team, then you need to make sure you choose the right kind of people to be your Kidmin team members.  It’s not about just “getting a warm body to sit in this classroom with these kids.”  You want your team to be remarkable.  You want a bunch of F.A.T. C.A.T.S.!

F – Faithful

When you assemble your ministry team, look for those who are faithful.  Faithful people show up when they say they will, they serve with excellence, and they are reliable in every situation.  Remind your team that all of us want to one day enter heaven and hear these words: 

‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.’”  – Matthew 25:19

A – Available

As I mentioned, you don’t just want to find any warm body to serve in Children’s Ministry.  Being available is not about “not having anything else to do.”  “Available” is an attitude that says, “I am willing to serve in whatever capacity will advance the Kingdom of God.”  When assembling your team, recruit people who are available to serve wherever needed because they have a passion to reach kids, not people with the “I don’t do windows” mentality.

T – Teachable

I’ve been in Children’s Ministry for over twenty years, and I STILL have so much to learn.  A teachable spirit is something a person must possess if they are going to be effective in ministry.  The more you learn, the more you find out just how much there is you still don’t know.  A ministry team will only grow to the point that its leader is willing to grow.  No matter how much we may know, there is so much more to learn if we want our ministry to flourish.

C – Committed

In society today, commitment is a value that seems to be waning in importance.  Whether it is commitment to a career, a marriage, or church, finding an everyday American that is wholeheartedly committed to something is difficult.   Being committed means a person will “stick with it” no matter how difficult the conditions become.

A – Accountable

Accountability is something we often want from others, but rarely want to give to others.  In a ministry team, accountability is a key factor for things to run smoothly.  When you are building your ministry team, don’t look for those who refuse to submit themselves to authority.  Look for those who are willing to be accountable to you as their leader.

T – Transparent

Too often we try to hide our real self and put on a front for others.  We don’t want to admit our faults, our weaknesses, or our failures.  On a ministry team, this works against the goal of “working together.”  When you can’t share your feelings, fears, or failures with someone, there’s no real trust there.  Without trust, every team will falter.  Oftentimes, we project a false version of ourselves for others to see.  Rather than be genuine and authentic we are pretentious and fake.  Rather than be transparent, we find ourselves putting up walls between ourselves and our fellow team members.

Transparency is a quality that each member of your ministry team should possess.  Really, transparency is about integrity and is powerful in bonding relationships on a team.  It builds trust and breaks down walls.  Ephesians 4:15 says,  “Let our lives lovingly express the truth in all things–speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly.”   That’s being transparent.

S – Serving

Dwight L. Moody once said, “The measure of a man is not how many servants he has, but how many men he serves.”  One of the greatest traits of anyone in ministry is having a heart for serving others.  What is ministry all about?  It’s about serving others.  As we ministry to children, there are many times when we are going to be required to do things that are out of our comfort zone (crazy characters, pies-in-the-face, and lock-ins just to name a few).  We must seek to display a heart of service that says, “Whatever I have to do to reach these kids, I will do it!”

Jesus said, “Anyone who wants to be the first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else (Mark 9:35).”

There are so many children to reach and so little time to reach them.  We need to partner with those who are faithful, available, teachable, committed, accountable, transparent, and serving in order to accomplish this Great Commission.  It’s time to get some F.A.T. C.A.T.S. on your Kid’s Ministry team!

Raising The Bar: Expecting MORE From Your Team

“I can’t get my team to come to meetings, so I just don’t schedule them.”   ”I wish my team were more committed.”  ”I want to raise the level of my team, but I am afraid of losing good people.”

I hear statements like these from Kidmin Leaders all the time.  They want to take their team to the next level of commitment so they can accomplish more for the Kingdom, but they are afraid that if they expect more, they will lose people off of their team.  And, they are probably right.

Anytime we raise the standard and expect more of those serving in ministry, there are those who decide they just can’t make the commitment.  They may quit.  Although that is hard to deal with and NEVER something you want to see, I have always observed that it ends up being a healthy thing for the rest of team.

Keep in mind that your team wants to succeed as individuals as well as collectively.  A weak link will demoralize the collective culture and allow for rapid deterioration within the spirit of the team.  That is not good for the team or the ministry.

People want to be a part of something BIG, something exciting, something that is making a difference.  Challenge your team to be committed to growth and excellence.  Some will self-eject, but those who stay and answer the call will be more committed, more empowered, and more effective.

Still skeptical?  Jesus was the Master at raising the bar.  He was constantly calling His followers to a higher level of commitment.  He went from “Follow me” to “You have heard it said…well I say…” all the way to “Deny yourself and take up your cross…”  He NEVER let His followers off easy.  Not because he wanted to make it difficult for them, but because He knew what was at stake – souls in Eternity.  He knew that half-hearted commitments would never get the job done.

“The Status Quo never inspired ANYONE!”

The Status Quo never inspired anyone!  Resist the desire to “make it easy” on your team.  Expect the best from them, and then watch them deliver!  You’ll be glad you did!

Do People Trust You?

Trust is critical and is the foundation of any relationship.  Whether that be in your family, ministry, church, or work – trust is what makes every relationship work.  Often, we assume that others should just NATURALLY trust us, but it rarely works that way.  You have to do your part to build trust.

If you want to build a strong level of trust with your team and others, here are several practices you should put in place:

*  Keep your promises – do what you say you will do.

*  Tell the truth – the whole truth, all the time, even when it is painful.

*  Admit your mistakes – when you blow it, admit it.

*  Give away credit – don’t sing your own praises, sing the praises of others.

*  Willingly offer help – when you see a need, offer your assistance.

*  Listen – as James 1:19 puts it, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak…”  People trust those who have their best interest at heart.  Nothing demonstrates that better than sincerely listening to others.

*  Value others – demonstrate that value by showing appreciation to them both publicly and privately

*  Tell the WHY as well as the WHAT – when people understand WHY you are taking a certain action, they begin to see your heart and values.  This helps them to trust who you are.

Trust is so important.  Many take it for granted and assume it will just happen.  Every action, every word, every reaction is either building or eroding trust.  Let’s work hard to exhibit these traits this week.

What have I missed?  Do you have other practices that build trust?  Leave a comment and share it with our community!

Ten Effective Ways To Show Appreciation To Your Volunteers


Leading a volunteer ministry can be difficult.  Volunteers sacrifice their time away from their families, their jobs, and their other responsibilities and interests.  They are not required to stick with you or your kids ministry, so you want to make sure that you are proactive in showing them your appreciation.

Here are ten effective ways you can show appreciation to your volunteers:

1.  Say it publicly
Every opportunity you have: in a meeting, in front of the kids, in front of the church, in whatever public setting you are in – brag on your team.  Thank them for their tireless efforts in reaching kids for the Kingdom.

2.  Say it privately
Take your volunteers to lunch periodically (keep a list and work down the list in a strategic way).  Tell them honestly and clearly what they mean to you and the kids ministry.  Be specific.

3.  Say it creatively
Leave them a short note on the counter in their classroom or area of ministry with a creative twist.  Example:  a $5 Starbucks gift card with a note that says “Thanks A Latte!”  (For lots of creative ideas like this, check out this post)

4.  Say it sincerely
Sit down and write them a card that details the reasons why they, individually, are invaluable to the team.  Cite a specific instance you have witnessed recently of how they have made an impact in the life of a kid.

5.  Say it digitally
Send them an unexpected text, email, or Facebook message that says, “Just wanted you to know I am thankful to have you on our Kids Ministry team!”

6.  Celebrate their birthday
Send them a card, show up at their door with a “Happy Birthday” singing flash mob, whatever!  People love to be honored on their special day!

7.  Equip them
Buy them a book or resource that you know will make them better at their ministry position.  Write a note in the front cover to let them know you appreciate their commitment to growth.

8.  Feed them
Invite the team over to your house for a BBQ.  Make it a fun game night.  Don’t have a “meeting” or have an “agenda.”  Make your agenda celebrating the team and showing your love and appreciation.

9.  Photograph them
Take a picture of them serving in their area of ministry.  Print it and write a note on the back.  You could even have some of the kids in their class/ministry sign the back.

10.  Pray for them
Spend time praying for them.  Find out their spiritual needs and bring those before the Father.  Then, send a quick text or a note that says, “Just wanted you to know that I prayed for you today.  Thanking our Heavenly Father for sending you to our Kids Ministry Team.”

What about you?  What are some effective ways you have used to show appreciation for your volunteers?  Share some of your ideas in the comments section.  You will help a lot of folks in the Kidmin Community.