Kidmin volunteers love impacting the lives of children in a positive way. They enjoy sharing Jesus’ message with kids and seeing God move in the lives of the next generation. But sometimes we unknowingly and unintentionally get in their way. We do things that frustrate them and neglect to do things they expect of us. Oftentimes, they don’t speak up and end up quitting. We scratch our head and wonder why we have a high turnover rate and volunteers who aren’t committed. And the entire time…there are things we could have done to keep those volunteers and even see them flourish long-term.
Here are five things kidmin volunteers want you to know but probably won’t tell you.
1. “I love working with the kids and it’s a rewarding ministry, but it’s nice to hear ‘thank you,’ too.”
Jean Massieu said, “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.”
When a leader takes time to write a personal note that specifically says why a volunteer is important to the team, it shows that you care not only about the spot they’re filling on your schedule, it says that you care for them, too. A gift card thrown in every once in a while doesn’t hurt, either.
2. “I know you’re busy, but I need you to be organized.”
Most volunteers have busy lives. Starting meetings on time, having schedules out in advance, and making sure the materials they need are in the classroom shows them you care about the ministry to kids and it’s not the last thing on your to-do list.
3. “I hate it when kids’ church is used to babysit staff and leader’s kids.”
One negative byproduct of multiple services is that staff and leader’s children can attend up to four services a weekend. They are bored, shout out the answers before the other kids get to participate, and can be a real behavior problem. Have the courageous conversation with your leadership team, and have spouses serve in opposite services so the leader’s kids don’t have to be at church all weekend. It will help keep church fun for the kids, too.
4. “Please find enough volunteers so that I don’t burn out.”
Volunteers know that they can say no, but they love you, and it’s hard to draw the line when they know you’re short-handed. Every church needs to have a plan for staffing children’s areas, and it starts with the pastoral team. It’s sad when a volunteer leaves the kids’ ministry team because they’re being overscheduled. Ensuring your volunteers are able to worship one/serve one will keep them engaged and excited about serving.
5. “What’s happening in our classroom is as important as what’s happening with the adults, so invest in us.”
Children’s ministry brings families into the body, helps them consistently attend church, and changes lives, so invest the church’s resources in it! Make sure volunteers have the materials, training and the great classroom they need—it makes a difference to them and the kids!
What are some things you find that volunteers are thinking but not saying?
Take a minute and reflect on which of these five things resonates the most with you.
Denise McKinnon is a children’s pastor with her husband Mark at City Church of Bartlesville in Oklahoma.