Strategy for Volunteer Recruitment and Retention

I remember my first day on staff as Preschool Coordinator at the church my family and I had been attending for a year. “Good morning how are you? Are you serving anywhere?” I asked this very assertive looking woman checking in her kids. She looked at me like I had lost my mind. She then responded, “Do you know who I am?” I smiled and said “a future kid ministry volunteer?” She politely smiled and walked away. Immediately following, I turned to my left and asked my supervisor who that was. She said “You just asked the associate pastor’s wife to serve in Kids Ministry! Looks like we’ve hired the right person for the job…No One Is Safe!”

This story brings me to my first point:
1. No one is off limits
I mean this point kind of speaks for itself! Ask everyone! Are you serving anywhere? And let’s be honest… “Kids aren’t everyone’s JAM” and that’s ok! You should be knowledgeable enough about other ministries in your church to point them in the right direction.
Mark 10:45: For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. If Jesus wasn’t off limits, neither is anyone else.

2. Don’t be afraid of ‘The NO’
So you’re afraid to ask because the answer might be no… “No” is ok! You are in Kids Ministry, and kids NEED consistency. You want volunteers that are going to be committed to the cause. You don’t want someone that’s just filling a hole or saying yes because they feel bad (which means they will eventually flake out on you right?) It’s ok to get a few (or A LOT) of no’s on a Sunday for those one or two yes’s!

3. Stick to your set ratios
I’ll probably get some mixed reviews on this one but here it goes! Set ratios and stick to them! If your set ratio for your 2-yr-old classroom is one adult to every five kids, when Sunday comes, if you only have two volunteers for your 2-yr-old classroom, ONLY take in ten 2-yr-olds. Use this as a recruiting tool! Have those conversations at your check-in stations, and ask people to serve and get on a rotational schedule. Parents and members will see that there is a need in your ministry for volunteers. If you are constantly just taking in kids and not sticking to your set ratios, people will assume that your ministry is doing fine. Meanwhile, volunteers get overwhelmed and often burned out. And, let’s be honest, burned out volunteers won’t come back. Going over ration also creates an unsafe environment for the kids that are there. Bottom line: Ratios are put in place for safety and so that the volunteers can teach the lesson about Jesus these kids come to hear each week! They can’t do that if you aren’t enforcing the classroom ratios.

4. Show them your hand
Ok, brace yourself for this one. You can show emotions when you recruit. When I recruit, 80% of the time I cry. It just starts happening when I talk to potential (and current) volunteers about my ministry. I used to get really frustrated about it. I thought it made me look unprofessional and yada yada, but after serious prayer and reflection I realized that God was using my passion for this ministry to bring others to serve and teach kids about Jesus every week. So I’m not saying cry, but the passion you have for your ministry needs to be evident when you recruit.

5. When you’re not recruiting, you’re still recruiting
You work in Kids Ministry. It should be fun! You, of all people, have an excuse to come in on Sundays dressed in a tutu or a super hero cape! If people see that it’s fun to serve in your ministry and with you, they will!

6. Don’t live paycheck to paycheck, Invest!
Now that you’ve got the volunteer on a rotation, you want to make them feel like part of a team, because they are!  Be honest with the volunteers are your ministry! They deserve more than just a “Hey! Good morning!” each Sunday when you see them. That’s what I mean by living “paycheck to paycheck”—when you only do the bare minimum when it comes to volunteers. I know time gets away from us. Hey, it gets busy running a kids ministry! But, you’ve got to make time to invest! Save for your ministry’s future! It’s a 401K. Send your volunteers thank you cards once a month. Send them texts throughout the week letting them know that you are praying for them. Buy them breakfast! Go into their classrooms, not to evaluate but to hangout and help with craft time or rock babies and talk! They value time with you as a leader. Invest in them.

7. Where God guides, God provides.
So last, but certainly not least, is this tidbit of recruiting gold. You’ve got to trust in Him. The Big Guy. That’s right. I said it. All you control freaks out there that are just as OCD as I am about making sure every classroom is covered every hour every Sunday… and if it’s not… you might just have a melt down. Well, news flash. God called you here for reason. He called you to lead this ministry! To lead and grow the next generation in Christ.

Luke 12: 24-26 says: Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or bam; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable are you than the birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

He guided you to where you are, He will provide for your needs. Trust In Him.

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