Ask Your KidMin Volunteers to Do More

Everyone was busy, and we didn’t want to intrude on anyone’s life. So we opted to invite volunteers to a single Sunday hour of volunteering a month – which seemed really doable. No one would feel bad inviting someone else to give up one hour a month. What it meant was that we would need 50 volunteers per service—which for a congregation of 75-85 per service seemed unattainable.

We soon found out that a consequence of this approach was that by changing volunteers each week, real relationships were harder to develop with children, which led to natural testing, which led to behavior problems, which led to volunteers not being very excited about volunteering, which led to having to ask for more volunteers. Well, at least it’s only an hour a month, right?

As I like to tell our church, the two worst inventions for our faith are the couch and the microwave. One suggests comfort as the end goal, and the other suggests that things can develop quickly.

So we went looking for new volunteers. Only this time, the commitment was for one of our classes—wait for it—for a full year. It was a high call. Thankfully, God was already at work and some people were just waiting for the nudge.

We’re six months into the change, and what behavior problems we had have all but disappeared. I just finished reading Dan Pink’s Drive, which tells me that people are motivated by autonomy, purpose, and mastery—not money. And I think he’s right.

What changes can you make where you UP the requirements, instead of drop them? How can you engage volunteers in a way that offers them autonomy, purpose and opportunities for mastery?   

Chris Lema is a marketing and engineering professional who moonlights as a teaching pastor at Creekside Christian Church in Northern California. He’s been colliding since he was a child, but an Orange fan for just over a year.

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The Orange Group is a gathering of leaders who are passionate about engaging churches and families to influence the faith and character of the next generation. Contributors include some of the most widely respected thought-leaders in children’s ministry, including Reggie Joiner, Sue Miller, Kendra Fleming, Jim Wideman, and Bre Hallberg. New blog entries, podcasts, webcasts, and video downloads are available every week to help you keep leading yourself and growing with your team.