Your volunteers are busy.
Whether moms or dads, empty nesters, or college-aged kids, volunteers have a lot on their plate.
AND they want to serve in your ministry. YAY!
But knowing your volunteers have a full schedule creates some very real problems. You might be wondering…
Do they have the time to serve?
If I do a training event, will anyone attend?
How will I know if they are able to lead the classes if I’m not able to do hands-on training?
Before you jump to managing your volunteers’ lives, consider first how you can help them to lead this coming Sunday morning.
If they had no extra training, but they were background checked, interviewed, and had read over your ministry handbook, what essential skills do you need to master to prepare your volunteers for Sunday morning children’s ministry?
Here are 4 tips to help your volunteers feel prepared and ready to serve the kids at your church.
1. Share the lesson plan on the week they are serving.
Let your volunteers know they will receive the lesson within the week before they are on the schedule.
They don’t need it a month in advance. They need it the week they are serving.
Their attention span is much too compromised with meetings, kids’ activities, and life to plan that far in advance.
The lesson can be sent as a PDF the Thursday before they serve. That way they can review it a couple of days before they are set to work with the kids.
If you don’t use digital curriculum, the email you send can be a reminder of the lesson you are on this week.
When you share the lesson, make sure they have a way to ask questions, by either replying to the email or texting you.
An added bonus is to cast vision for what the lesson will do in the body of the email you are sending.
It helps the volunteers understand where they are going with the lesson, how it fits into the story arc for the year, and what kind of fruit might happen from their investment.
Volunteers might not always read their emails, but reminding them to go over the email and the lesson will help them to feel prepared for what they are about to teach.
One note: Sometimes volunteers show up having not read the lesson. (And when I say volunteers, I mean me. Sorry!)
If this is the case, encourage them to come 15 minutes early and have a printed copy of the lesson on the wall for them to read through.
When they have any questions, they can ask you right then and there.
2. Connect new volunteers with their lead partners.
Whenever you start someone now on the volunteer team, pair them up with a seasoned leader for their first several weeks of serving before they take the lead.
Be sure to ask the veteran leader if they are willing to help train in the new volunteer and share with them what that entails. (i.e. sending a text to the new volunteer welcoming them to the team; reviewing the lesson schedule for the day when they arrive; giving them space ask questions throughout the day and after the lesson.)
You can connect them via text message so they can get to know each other really quickly before they are in the classroom together.
Encourage the veteran volunteer to ask these 3 easy questions:
- Tell me about your family.
- Have you helped in a kid’s class before?
- Are there any questions or concerns you have before we serve on Sunday morning?
This will help you to empower your faithful volunteers to take care of newer volunteers and create relationships between them.
3. Check in with them.
Duh. Of course, you’re going to check in with them.
If you’re the leader of a small to midsize ministry, stop by the class before and say “hello.”
Ask if there’s anything they need.
Then return to their class after the kids are checked out to see how the day’s events went and if there were any questions or concerns raised.
For children’s pastors at larger churches, who will check in with them?
Will it be an intern or your administrative assistant?
Will it be a high-capacity volunteer?
Whoever is checking in with them, make sure they take notes and share them with you before the day is done or in a follow-up email.
4. Remind them to be flexible.
Lessons don’t always go as planned.
Share with your volunteers beforehand that sometimes the schedule is thrown off course and that it’s ok!
Here are some examples:
- Maybe the video lesson is down due to internet issues. (This happens in snowy Minnesota sometimes.)
- Maybe you have too many kids and the chaos is creating little momentum around getting the lesson done.
- Maybe you have only 2 kids in the class and the activities take only a few minutes to get through.
- Maybe the kids are playing so well that you want them to take more time being comfortable at church and playing with new friends so you cut out an activity to give them time to connect.
- Maybe the story goes over the kids’ heads and they have little to no response.
The goal of ministry to kids is to connect them to Jesus.
So if they heard a story about God’s love toward them, were in a safe environment with loving and competent adults, and left feeling calm and cared for, the volunteers did their job.
Of course, your goals are higher, but in reality, volunteers who know they can adapt to challenging situations will perform better in uncertain circumstances and do better with the kids in their care.
You can help prepare your volunteers for Sunday mornings regardless of the level of training or experience by doing these few simple things.
If volunteers feel cared for, know what to expect, and are given room to grow, they will keep coming back to serve, regardless of their busy schedules.
Do you want more training for your volunteers as you head into the fall?
Check out INCM’s Fall Launch Volunteer Training preview on August 16! Members get in FREE so sign up to become a member today for this and many other valuable training opportunities and resources that will help you as you lead in children’s ministry.