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Kidmin Leaders: Stop Recruiting, Start Retaining

Last month at Group’s KidMin Conference, I shared a ministry challenge and a ministry joy at the opening General Session.  This is what I said:

“I’ve been chosen by God to not recruit volunteers to ‘fill holes’ (which is a pet peeve phrase of mine). I’ve been chosen by God to recruit volunteers to a vision, shepherd them, train them, equip them to serve, connect them with other volunteers and place them in their volunteer sweet spot so that they serve with us for the long haul.”

Recruiting volunteers ranks near the top of the list of challenges for ministry leaders.  It really doesn’t matter whether your church is large or small; no church is immune.  You rarely hear someone say, “I don’t need any more volunteers.”

Yesterday I attended a local networking event here in Baltimore for kidmin leaders.  The topic: Stop Recruiting, Start Retaining.  The speaker was Christine Kreisher, who serves as the Family and Connections Pastor at Glad Tidings Church in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Here are four things to give volunteers so that they stay around for the long haul:


“People don’t need another job; they need, and crave, purpose and meaning.” – CK

Leaders:  Create a FUN and meaningful experience where volunteers feel that what they do matters.

Volunteers will say:  “I love this!” or “I’m making a difference.”

Best Practices:

  • Connect the vision
  • Find the fit
  • Improve the process
  • Fill their bucket


“It’s the lack of communication and preparation that kills volunteerism.” – Dr. Darren Kizer

“People matter to God, so they matter to us.” – Nelson Searcy

Leaders:  Ensure that every volunteer has the necessary information, resources and encouragement to fulfill their role in ministry.

Volunteers will say:  “I have what I need.” or “I feel valued.”

Best Practices:

  • Communicate early and often
  • Huddle up
  • Train for success
  • Organize volunteer teams


“God created us with a hunger for relationship—for relationship with Him and with our fellow people.  At our very core, we are relational beings … The soul cannot prosper without being connected to others..” – Henry Cloud

Leaders:  Establish a culture where volunteers feel connected and new friendships can be developed.

Volunteers will say:  “I belong here.” or “I’ve got friends here.”

Best Practices:

  • Friendship-friendly programming
  • Make it fun
  • Plan connections
  • Get it on the calendar
  • Embrace the mess!


“The local church should be one of the greatest leadership development agencies on the planet because Jesus was a great leader and developer of leaders.  The church does not have a leadership problem … there are plenty of leaders. The church has a leadership development problem.” – Mac Lake

Leaders:  Invest your time and resources to empower people to develop as a leader.

Volunteers will say:  “I’m trusted and have opportunities to develop into a better leader.”

Best Practices:

  • Replace yourself
  • Set them free
  • Delegate vs. dump
  • Make it helpful

Keep the conversation going!  What strategies have you seen that work in retaining volunteers?  Let me know by leaving a comment below!  

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Kathie Phillips felt called to children’s ministry at the age of 13. She is the Director of Children’s Ministry at Central Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to overseeing Route 45 (Preteen Ministry for 4th & 5th graders), she also oversees The Treehouse (for 1st – 3rd graders). Married to Lance and mom to Daniel and Kennedy, Kathie shares practical tips and inspiration for kidmin leaders each week on her blog, KidMinspiration.com.