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Volunteer Quantity vs. Volunteer Quality

by Amy Fenton

I am going to tell you something that may make you feel a little better today, maybe help you realize that you are not alone in this crazy journey called Kids Ministry. Are you ready?

You are NOT the only one who needs more volunteers.

Whew. I am glad we got that out in the open. You are not the only one. I think the number one question I get as I meet with leaders is, “How do I get more volunteers?” So, if you are reading this right now and thinking about that two-year-old room that has blank spaces in the “teacher” box on your list for this Sunday right now, you are not alone. If you are trying to think how to combine your 3rd and 4th grade groups this weekend because the 3rd grade leader is out of town for a long weekend, you are not alone! If you’re best friend and family members avoid you on Saturday nights for fear they will be roped in as a last resort, you are not alone.

I think sometimes in this place of desperation we start to panic and we overlook volunteer quality and desperately seek volunteer quantity. We have holes to fill. Sunday is coming. Get a warm body in the room! But . . . there is just one problem. Is that really your dream for your ministry? Do you even remember what your dream is for your ministry? Is that what you think the parents in your church want from your ministry? I can answer this question—that is NOT what I want for my three kids: Jadyn, Pierce and Blaze. I happen to think they deserve the best!

There have been many seasons in my ministry when I had to stop and remind myself, “I have standards of excellence for the ministry that cannot be compromised.” One of the most important was a quality volunteer.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Are you casting vision? People need to know what they do matters. They need to see how they fit into the bigger picture. And they need to believe they are going to be doing something significant. Do you constantly cast vision to remind them?
  • Are you making the big asks? Sometimes we are so afraid to inconvenience people that we apologize for asking them to serve once a month. What makes us afraid to ask BIG? Kids need consistency. We need to make the big asks of people. We need them to be a weekly, consistent person speaking into the life of a child. When we ask big, people will step up. When people step up, they are in turn blessed more than they ever imagined.
  • Are you assuming the best? Sadly, in ministry we can start to assume the worst in others instead of the best. Have you ever been on your fourth phone call trying to find someone to teach those 5th grade boys and realized your muscles are tight and you are ready to chew up and spit out the next person who says, “NO.” Because people don’t serve in kids ministry, they are not bad people. Because someone can’t help you this weekend, that doesn’t mean all of mankind has turned evil. People have lives, and issues, and families and trips and we can still assume the best of them. Someday, when that person is ready to serve, they will remember if you gave them grace or filled them with guilt when they just weren’t ready.
  • Are you making it too easy? For a time in ministry my go to line was, “All you have to do is show up. We will do everything else for you! It’s just that easy.” Until I started to realize, I made it so easy that a gorilla could show up and lead our small groups. This goes back to my other points. Ask them to serve. Ask them to give. Ask them to take some ownership of their ministry. It can be too easy. They don’t feel like they are needed. They don’t feel like they are a part of something significant.

“Maybe your leaders aren’t committed because you haven’t asked them to commit to something significant.” – Lead Small

Ask them to commit, without apology. Pray for God to bless your efforts. Don’t grow weary in the asking. And don’t let just anyone with a pulse serve in your ministry! You have better standards.

Help your volunteers feel inspired, celebrated and empowered by spending a Saturday morning with us at LIVE TO SERVE, a unique event for preschool and children’s ministry volunteers. Join us in Birmingham (2/21), Nashville (2/28), Cincinnati (3/7) and Norfolk (3/14). To register or for more information, please visit LiveToServe.co.

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