Is there anything more important to the success of your children’s ministry than the quality of the volunteer team that you’re able to recruit?
I don’t think so. That’s why it’s crucial to recruit the best possible volunteers.
With that in mind, here are 7 tips to help you recruit THE BEST, MOST AWESOME, UNSTOPPABLE CHILDREN’S MINISTRY TEAM EVER:
TIP #2: Don’t lower expectations to get volunteers – raise them!
You’re not asking for people to “show up” on Sunday. You’re not emphasizing how “easy” it will be, or how little prep it takes, or that “anybody can do it.”
If that’s the kind of person you’re looking for to fill spots in your children’s ministry, that’s the kind of person you’ll get. Set your sights higher.
Follow the Apostle Peter’s example when setting expectations:
"If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11 NIV, emphasis added)
Like Peter, we want volunteers who are willing to give their very best to the ministry.
That may mean we’re asking our teachers to prepare lessons in advance. We’re asking helpers to take the time to get to know the children personally. We’re asking our teen helpers to do all that is possible to improve the learning environment.
If the Apostle Peter was around today, recruiting children’s ministry volunteers, he might say…
“If anyone prepares lessons, they should do so as one preparing to teach the very words of God. If anyone helps, they should get to know the kids with all the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ and receive all the glory and power for ever and ever. Amen!” (a very strongly paraphrased 1 Peter 4:11, but I think accurately applied to children’s ministry)
To find and recruit volunteers who will be inspired by these high expectations, consider the next couple tips…
Tip #3: Recruit like Jesus did – personally.
Jesus had essential positions to fill in His ministry team. And how did He fill them? He recruited his volunteers through a personal invitation. Here’s the story of Jesus calling His first disciples:
“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Matthew 4:18-20 NIV)
It’s no secret that a personal invitation is more meaningful than advertising in the church bulletin. It’s more powerful than making a mass appeal from the pulpit.
Of course, the best approach is a combination – use mass appeals to create buzz and stir interest, then follow those up with personal invites.
And notice that Jesus is not begging or coercing or guilting Peter and Andrew into following Him. Instead, he expands their vision for what they can do with their lives: “Follow me… and I will send you out to fish for people.”
That’s our next tip…
Tip #4: Recruit like Jesus did – with a vision.
Let’s focus on the specific words Jesus used to recruit Peter and Andrew:
“ ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ (Matthew 4:19 NIV)
Jesus could have stopped after, “Come, follow me,” but instead, He painted a picture of what their future would look like – fishers of men.
Nowadays, we’re familiar with what it means to be ‘fishers of men,’ but did Peter and Andrew? I think that word-picture was just mysterious enough to spark their imagination, ignite their curiosity, and make following Jesus irresistible.
So, if we follow Jesus’ example, we’ll paint a picture that will spark the imagination and ignite the curiosity of potential volunteers. In other words, share your vision for Children’s Ministry with passion.
Spend time crafting the wording of your vision. Focus on the mystery of a volunteer being used by God to bridge the gap between Himself and the children in your classes.
Potential volunteers need to know that there will be children in their class who haven’t started their personal relationship with Jesus yet. The volunteer may get the opportunity to help a child trust in Jesus as their Savior! That volunteer may change a child’s eternal future!
And not just the child – lots of children are dropped off by non-believing parents. That volunteer may get to lead an entire family to accept Jesus as their Savior!
On top of that, the volunteer will have an opportunity every week to help young believers grow closer to God. Every week, the volunteer will get to impact young lives by sharing the life-changing truths of God’s Word.
Imagine the impact on a child in their class who has been struggling with anxiety as they explain these verses:
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6,7 NLT)
Or imagine the difference they could make in the life of a child who worries about losing their salvation as they explain Jesus’ reassuring words in John 10:
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:28,29 NIV)
And of course, there are a million other examples. And so, when I’m recruiting volunteers, I want to convey those possibilities.
For example, if I’m making a children’s ministry recruiting video, I’m not going to focus on what time volunteers need to show up for class, or what the appropriate attire is – I’m going to focus on the eternal impact those volunteers can have.
Or if I’m putting together a children's ministry recruiting flyer, I’m not just going to put the dates and times I need volunteers – I’m going to paint a picture that sparks the imagination and ignites curiosity and conveys a sense of wonder.
That means I may have to think outside the box, which leads us to Tip #5…
Tip #5: Recruit like Jesus did – creatively.
Notice that Jesus was calling fishermen, so He talked about sending them out to “fish for people.”
If He had been calling plumbers, would He have recruited them saying, “From now on, you’ll be delivering springs of living water”?
Or if he had been calling artists, would he have recruited them saying, “From now on, your canvas will be the hearts and minds of these precious children”?
I think so.
Jesus was the best at communicating creatively, in word-pictures that gripped people. (See, for example, all of his parables.)
What does that mean for us? How can we creatively communicate our needs for Sunday School teachers and Kid’s Church volunteers and snack-providers and worship-leaders and a security team in ways people will relate to?
That’s going to depend on your church culture. You know the people in your church-family better than anyone else. Pray and ask God for insight to discern the best way to recruit and present your vision. That prayer would surely fall into this category:
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14,15 NIV)
We know that having enough volunteers for your kidmin is God’s will. Therefore, God has promised to answer your prayer for help in that area. You can be confident He will give you everything you need to find the most effective and creative ways to recruit church volunteers for your exact situation.
As an example, I’ll share the children's ministry volunteer recruitment video we made at our church for recruiting volunteers to serve in Children’s Ministry over the summer. (We give our school-year teachers the summer off, to get refreshed and re-charged. That means we need a whole new team for the summer.)
This is the video we made and showed in our church: (scroll down to get a copy to use at your church for free)
That’s just an example. That may not be right for your church. Maybe a children's ministry recruitment letter would be a better fit for your church. Or maybe eye-catching posters placed around your church would be a better fit. That will depend on your situation.
But if you think that video would be a good fit for your church, I’d love to send it to you. It’s free, and you’ll get your choice of four versions that you can download with the following texts at the end:
1) Make A Difference. Volunteer in Children’s Ministry.
2) Make A Difference. Volunteer.
3) Make A Difference. Join the Team.
4) Make A Difference. Be A Sub.
Just sign up for our newsletter using this form:
Tip #6: Focus on Jesus Christ
Remember that some volunteers, whether they admit it or not, volunteer out of guilt. They feel obligated because their children are there or because their friends are volunteering in some capacity.
Feeling obligated isn’t necessarily a bad reason to volunteer, but it’s not a reason that is going to help them blossom into the committed and passionate volunteers that you want.
That’s only going to happen when they get charged up over the reason to serve in this verse:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…” (Colossians 3:23 NIV, emphasis added)
Jesus is the center of all that we do. The answer to the question, “Why volunteer in children’s ministry?” is Jesus.
The answer to, “Why should I be patient with this difficult child?” is Jesus.
The ultimate answer to “Why I serve in children’s ministry (or any ministry)” should be Jesus.
As members of our volunteer team focus on serving Him, their spiritual muscles grow stronger, their spiritual insights grow deeper, and their reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit becomes second-nature. Then, and only then, will we have THE BEST, MOST AWESOME, UNSTOPPABLE CHILDREN’S MINISTRY TEAM EVER.
And that leads us to our final tip…
Tip #7: Remind people of the rewards.
Let’s not forget – serving in children’s ministry has its rewards.
There is the immediate internal reward – the spiritual growth we experience from serving – spiritual discipline, deeper spiritual insights, and a closer connection to God’s Spirit.
There is the immediate external reward of making an impact in the life of a child, hearing a parent say “thank you for serving,” and the friendships we make while serving with others.
And let’s not forget that there are also eternal rewards for volunteers who give their time and energy for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.
Jesus wasn’t afraid to point those eternal rewards out. Here’s a great verse for helpers in the classroom:
“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” (Matthew 10:42 NIV, emphasis added)
Paul wasn’t afraid to talk about rewards for volunteer service. He even claimed that reward for himself as a volunteer:
“If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward…” (1 Corinthians 9:18a NIV)
And let’s not deny it – serving can be exhausting. There are times that our volunteers will want to give up. Paul knew that eternal rewards could be just the motivation you need during those difficult times to keep serving:
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 NIV)
Of course, we don’t volunteer just for the rewards, but we should take them seriously, like Jesus and Paul did. Reminding volunteers that the Bible speaks, repeatedly, about the rewards we will receive for what we’ve done here on earth, is important.
Try to strike the right balance between reminding volunteers of the internal benefits of serving in children's ministry (spiritual growth), external benefits of serving in children's ministry (making a difference in kid’s lives, friendships formed while serving), and eternal benefits of serving in children's ministry (heavenly rewards).
Final Thoughts On Children's Ministry Volunteer Recruitment:
I invite you to consider these 7 tips to help you recruit the BEST volunteers possible. Then watch as your children’s ministry blossoms into all that God has planned for it.
Feel free to use our recruiting video - we'll send it to you when you subscribe to our email newsletter here:
Whether you’re looking for Sunday School Teachers, Kid’s Church Leaders, AWANA or VBS volunteers, whatever the case – remember that you’re not just filling “holes.” Children’s ministry is too important to take any warm, breathing body who comes forward. You’re offering an opportunity so significant that it may be the greatest source of joy, growth, and eternal investment in that volunteer’s entire spiritual life!
It will certainly help if you can plan ahead. If you have a vision involving a particular goal for your church’s Children’s Ministry, write your vision for it down. Then write down your ideal team that you would like God to send you to put that ministry in motion.
Writing it down allows you to look ahead to see what you’ll need regarding volunteers as well as curriculum, equipment, etc. Your visionary mission statement can be used as a recruiting tool, especially when coupled with a written job description describing what will be expected of the potential volunteer. This allows everyone to be clear, upfront, about what you expect, which is always a win-win situation.
In some cases, you may find it necessary to consider redefining your church’s culture. For example, in some churches, instead of the various ministries supporting each other, they’re actually in competition for volunteers. In that case, you’ll have to be the catalyst who somehow gets the ministry leaders to stop competing and start working together.
Changing or redefining your church’s culture will need to involve your church leadership. You’ll need to stress Biblical directives to serve and use each person’s gifts for the furthering of the Body of Christ. You’ll have to emphasize the “one body” teachings of Christ. You’ll have to help your church do a better job of equipping, assigning, maximizing and encouraging people to serve as God leads them. It’s not going to be easy.
To dive deeper into how to advertise for church volunteers, check out these church volunteer recruitment ideas from ChurchLeaders.com. They’ve got 16 great suggestions. One of them is to “plant seeds” by celebrating your current leaders in front of the congregation. After seeing the exciting spiritual victories that are happening in children’s ministry, others may want to be a part of what’s going on.
I’ve summarized a several of their other suggestions below, but to see the whole list, be sure to click on the link above.
●Pray for volunteers. This should always be the first step in recruiting volunteers.
●Look beyond parents for volunteers. Consider seniors, singles, young couples, empty nesters, former Children’s Ministry “graduates,” etc.
●Always recruit “volunteers” or “helpers” instead of “Sunday School Teachers” or “Children’s Church Leaders.” For some potential volunteers, the idea of being called a “leader” or “teacher” will turn them away. Often they don’t view themselves as “leaders” or “teachers” yet. Let them grow into that role.
●Recruit all year long instead of just in the Fall when programs begin. This will help you build a waiting list from which to draw when the need arises
●Build relationships. People who are friends and feel like part of a team are more likely to stick around. Be genuine and open in these relationships.
●Share the load. Recruiting is not necessarily a “solo” performance. Often, your current volunteers can be your most effective recruiters.
If you found those children's ministry volunteer recruitment tips helpful, you can get even more tried and true recruiting secrets from childrensministry.com.
Keep praying, relying on God’s power, focusing on Jesus, and I have no doubt God will help you assemble THE BEST, MOST AWESOME, UNSTOPPABLE CHILDREN’S MINISTRY VOLUNTEER TEAM EVER!
(Then be sure to say thank you to your children’s ministry volunteers and celebrate their victories. Here’s a fun Volunteer Appreciation Gift for under $5, and here’s a free Children’s Ministry Teacher Appreciation Message Video you can use.)