This article was written by Sarah Ables, an INCM Blog Team member.
I have been a volunteer in the Children’s Ministry at my church for 9 years.
Yes, I have a calling and a passion for the discipleship of kids and families, but knowing the benefits of volunteering is what keeps me coming back.
I’m not talking about the gift cards or the journal or bookmark that I get at the Kick Off Training.
I am talking about some key points that every person in your congregation should know about how volunteering in your ministry will change their life.
Your volunteers might think they need to have all the answers or know the bible inside and out.
Or, they may think that they are “too old” to be in this ministry and that nothing they say will resonate with the kids.
Helping your potential volunteers understand that all they need is a desire to share the Gospel with children, can be a game changer for engagement.
Talk to your volunteers about how you want to partner with them and not just about the things that need to be done.
Here are 3 talking points to help you communicate with them.
1. They are wanted.
Anyone who serves in ministry knows that there are never enough hands to do what needs to be done.
There is and always will be a need for more volunteers.
But the most successful, long-term volunteers are the ones who understand that they are wanted, known, loved, cherished, and appreciated.
They understand they are not simply a check mark on the daily attendance list.
Their children’s ministry leader knows their name, their gifts, what motivates them, and then places them in a position to use those gifts for God’s glory in the ministry.
Communicate to them regularly about how they help the ministry do the work for the kids and the Kingdom, and keep sharing what you see in them.
2. Their community will grow.
Children’s ministry is hard work because we’re working with complicated kids and adults.
Sometimes kids are sticky, sometimes they ask the hard questions that adults know to shy away from, and sometimes they come to church from a really hard situation that they (and we) can’t control.
And because of this, is not meant to be done alone.
Our volunteers sharpen each other.
We laugh with each other, we support each other, and we pray for each other.
And this often turns into genuine friendships.
The people that I served with shoulder-to-shoulder in this ministry are some of my best friends.
They are the ones I call when I need advice, someone to throw confetti with, or someone to catch my tears.
Serving in this ministry provides a community like no other.
And it can happen to your leader as well.
Let potential volunteers know that they will meet other people in the church who can become life-long friends.
3. Teaching skills aren’t always required.
Some people don’t want to volunteer because they want to be in worship.
They might have had a hard week and need a good word.
I get it. I want to be there too.
Some people aren’t comfortable or called to work with kids.
Honestly, these aren’t the people you want in the classroom on Sunday morning.
But there are things volunteers can help with that don’t involve kids like:
- Packing the worship bags on Tuesday.
- Cutting out the strings for the Sunday School craft on Monday night.
- Copying the 15 lesson plans you need for various rooms.
- Setting up or tearing down before a large event.
- Committing to being a prayer partner.
All of these are important pieces of ministry that need to be completed and do not involve teaching or working directly with kids.
Highlighting some of these non-teaching roles can help potential volunteers find a place to serve.
Their gifts can be used, no matter what stage of faith they are in.
Do you know the tasks that you need help doing that anyone could help you accomplish?
Keep that list handy and invite others to serve the kids with you.
It can be rewarding for someone to prepare for kids to connect with Jesus, even if they’re not in the classroom.
A Simple Example
Last year, we didn’t have enough volunteers to run our summer VBS, and we were just cold-calling people asking for help.
One of our sweet, more mature members of the congregation reluctantly offered to help.
She wasn’t sure that she could keep up with the kids or that she would be able to connect with them.
What resulted? She ended up having the BEST time leading a group of kids for the week.
It translated into her joining our VBS Planning team full-time!
Reassure potential volunteers that if God is calling them to serve in this ministry, He will equip them.
The idea of volunteering in the children’s ministry can be intimidating.
These are just a few of the things I wish I had known about serving in children’s ministry that would have made it more doable right away.
By communicating to people that they are wanted, they will find community, and they don’t have to teach to serve, you can grow the number of volunteers in your ministry, and expand the impact of the people of the church investing in the next generation.
I agreed to serve because there was a need on a Sunday morning.
But what I have gotten from that one yes has been life and ministry changing.
I’m still here in this ministry 9 years later.
Don’t just ask your volunteers to fill a spot, ask them to partner with you, to be known and loved, to grow in faith and community, and to say “yes” to serving the ones in the little chairs.
Want more resources to use in your ministry from INCM? Check out the Free Downloads in the library.
Sarah Ables has been serving at Central College Presbyterian Church for 11 years in Children’s Ministries. She is employed full-time as a project manager in the financial industry but is excited that she also gets to use her skills to support leaders who serve children and families. Sarah lives in Ohio with her husband of 20 years and her 17-year-old son. They enjoy doing puzzles, playing board games, and singing loudly to musicals.