Children’s Ministry FAQ’s (Part 1)

c504966_mSeveral weeks ago, I wrote a post asking for you to send in your questions about children’s ministry while I was away at camp. First off, camp was great! I had the opportunity to disciple 12 boys while I was there and interactive with several hundred kids. I’ll write more about the camp soon. Right now, let’s take a look at a few of the questions that were submitted (Part 1):

How can I lead a volunteer team in ministry?

Great question! First, I would make sure that you have trained the volunteers (more on that below). Second, make sure you lead like you would want to be led. Some people may need more supervision than others, but everyone wants to feel respected and important when they are serving in their role. One thing I like to do is emphasize to them that they are a part of a TEAM. Say it over and over to them! After awhile, they will get the message that they are valuable and appreciated. Third, make sure you don’t just communicate, you overcommunicate! Keeping your team on the same page is essential to team unity.

Thankfully, this is a topic that many different children’s ministry leaders have addressed. I am especially impressed by the amount of information on leading a volunteer team in the Kidology Administration Zone. Also, take a look at this article on Cory Center.

How do I train volunteers, and what should I teach them?

I recommend three things: get to know the volunteer, help the volunteer get to know the ministry, and give them on the job training. I wrote about this a few months ago in an article entitled “3 Steps for Training New Leaders.” In addition to these steps, make sure you give your volunteers the tools they need to succeed. If they are going to teach, have you walked through how to create a lesson plan with them? If they are going to lead a small group, have you supplied them with instructions for how to use the small group materials? Help them succeed in their new role by helping them learn before they start it!

Again, I recommend reading the Training New Leaders article and this article called “21st Century Volunteer Training.”

What are some great ways to recruit volunteers?

Recruiting volunteers for your ministry doesn’t have to be daunting. In fact, there are many different ways to recruit volunteers. Karl Bastian wrote a great article on 50 Different Ideas for Recruiting Volunteers on Kidology.org. There is another great recruitment article over on Ministry-To-Children.com that gives 5 Tips for Volunteer Recruitment.

In the meantime, here are a few suggestions to get you going:

  1. Make sure your current volunteers are trained and are enjoying serving in the children’s ministry! Take care of this first, so that potential recruits will be attracted to your ministry.
  2. Plan what roles you are going to recruit volunteers for. People like to know that they can serve and make an impact!
  3. Share with the church what roles are available and needed in the children’s ministry. You can communicate with them through Sunday announcements, a bulletin announcement, the church email newsletter, a recruitment booth after a church service, and by asking people you know.
  4. Ask your current volunteers if they know anyone that might be interested. Share your vision with them and get them excited to help you recruit!
  5. Pray, pray, pray. Before you start this process, pray for it. As you get potential recruits, pray that God would lead them to serve in the ministry role that they can succeed in.

How do you structure trainings for teen volunteers?

Great question. On one hand, you will want to keep your main procedures in place for training volunteers (background checks, train them for their roles, etc). Second, you have a great opportunity with teen volunteers to coordinate with your youth pastor on this one. For example, I know several youth groups that take a whole month of the summer to do something called “Summer Serve.” The youth group will take a month to train the teenagers for a specific ministry (usually children’s ministry is a main one), then let them serve for a full month for the first-time (which also gives year-round volunteers some time off). This gives you a great opportunity to train a group of teen volunteers yourself. Even if you don’t do a Sunday Serve event at your church, you can still have a special training event for your teenagers. Regarding the structure of the training, you can usually keep it similar to your trainings, with your explanation of the church policies modified to accommodate for their age (ex: two adults over 18 years old must be present in the room at all times, so teenagers need adults to be present to be with children).

For a few great articles on this topic, check out Training Youth to be Children’s Ministry Leaders and Amy Fenton Lee’s article on Policies and Training for Teenage VBS Helpers (which is useful for weekly ministry as well).

Want to contribute to these answers? Leave a comment with your suggestions and advice! Part 2 is coming soon!