Creating a Ministry Culture that Kid’s Volunteers Never Want to Leave
Something no Kid’s or Family Pastor wants to have is high turnover among their kid’s volunteers, or worse yet, volunteers who stick around but aren’t happy to be there.
We want committed volunteers who are excited to be with the kids, who, when Sunday ends, can’t wait for the next one, and who feel like they’ve missed something important when they aren’t there.
But that doesn’t just naturally happen.
It takes intentionality.
It takes creating a culture where loving kids and families is deep within the fabric of who you are.
Here are four ways you can begin to create that kind of culture in your church.
Give Your Kid’s Volunteers Space for Relationship
At the church where I serve, we noticed that our volunteers were serving beside each other week after week, but they weren’t building relationships with each because they were so busy with the kids, they could barely come up for a breath, let alone get to know each other better.
So we decided that we would give them 15 minutes every Sunday to themselves (at least all the Small Group leaders)…during the Kids’ Large Group Experience.
What does that look like?
During the story time and wrap-up, we send everyone involved in Small Groups to their rooms to do 3 things: Get Ready, Grow, and Gab.
In the first 5 minutes, the Small Group leaders guide their teams in getting ready by reading over the schedule, rehearsing the game or activity, assigning what each person will do, and praying over the kids and their parents by name.
In the second 5 minutes, the Small Group leaders read a Twitter-sized quote to their teams and discuss a question about how they can grow in their role of leading the kids.
In the last 5 minutes, they can get coffee refills (we provide coffee for all our volunteers), share prayer requests, and share about their weeks.
Since we’ve started this, there’s been a huge difference in how volunteers relate to each other, and the added benefit of Small Groups being executed much more excellently (I talk about this more in-depth in my post: How Your Volunteers can Prep, Grow, and Build Relationships…In Service).
Be Prepared and Organized for Your Kid’s Volunteers
This one’s really simple.
Create a schedule that has everyone’s name assigned to a role and send it (preferably by email and text) by Wednesday (we send ours on Tuesdays).
That means if you haven’t been using a schedule, create one.
And if you haven’t been working ahead enough to send a schedule that early in the week, commit to being disciplined and getting at least 1 week ahead.
Here’s a couple reasons this is so important: 1) It shows volunteers you’re organized and know exactly what you’re doing (haphazard is your worst enemy with high capacity volunteers) 2) Your volunteers see exactly where they fit in on Sunday, so they’ll think “My role really matters” and 3) You force yourself to think through where each of your kid’s volunteers fit in, so their role really does matter.
Define the Wins for Your Kid’s Volunteers
Along the lines of making sure every volunteer knows “My role really matters,” you need to make sure that every volunteer has measurable wins.
Because if you don’t define the wins, your volunteers will, which will eventually erode excellence as they set the bar lower and lower to feel like they’re winning (because no one likes to lose), even if they aren’t.
At the church where I serve, we’re still working on honing our wins and how we communicate them, but as an example this is what we use right now.
With each win, we ask volunteers to keep score, so if a volunteer asks 5 families how their weeks went, they would write that down on their schedule, if the Storyteller told kids to talk with their parents about something 3xs, they would write that down, the same thing with small groups, and when families are leaving we have a slip of paper we give to kids and include at the top of the weekly devo for parents called “On the Drive Home” (Learn more about this idea in my post:1 Simple Way to Get Families to Have a Spiritual Talk on the Drive Home), so if a volunteer reminds 10 kids and parents to ask the question the car, they would write that down.
Obviously something like “Wow Experience for Guests” is really difficult to measure objectively, so we’re still working on that one.
Make Sure Every Volunteer Role is Indispensable
People can smell inauthenticity from a mile away, so be careful not to tell volunteers their role really matters, when it doesn’t; it will only make them resentful.
This is something we struggle with at times where I serve.
We’ve been blessed with an awesome team of volunteers, but sometimes we don’t know what to do with all of them, so a few lower capacity volunteers (serve 1 wk/month) fall into the dispensable category, and I can see on their faces that they know it.
But we acknowledge the problem and we’re working through it, asking ourselves questions about whether it’s a communication problem, or if we could repurpose roles to be more meaningful.
The point is, this is something that you should be thinking about because it’s vital to a culture that no kid’s volunteer wants to leave.
Appreciate Your Kids Volunteers
It doesn’t have to be a huge annual banquet, gala, party or anything that blows up the budget.
We give a $5 gift to volunteers at Christmas and Easter, every week we write 2 hand-written thank you cards to different volunteers, and every Monday we send out a text with an encouraging story from Sunday (If you’re wondering how we get a story for every Monday, read this: How to Collect Stories of Life Change from Families and Volunteers).
A strategy that simple, let’s kid’s volunteers know you value and appreciate them, and it will go a long way, much longer than $10 bucks and some encouragement will go anywhere else.
As someone who volunteered in Kid’s Min for many years before I became a Pastor, I hated coming into environments where I felt like no one would notice if I didn’t show up.
So make sure you create space for relationship building, discipline yourself to be organized and prepared, create wins for every volunteer, make sure every volunteer is truly indispensable, and find small ways to appreciate your volunteers.
What are some ways you create a volunteer culture that people never want to leave? Leave a comment here or on Facebook!
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