Next to “recruiting” volunteers, training is perhaps one of the most challenging elements of leading in Children’s Ministry. But our real job is to equip God’s people to do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:12; see this post for more).
Here are a few ideas to help get you started :
13 Ways to Train Volunteers in Your Children’s Ministry
1. Annual Event
This can serve as a key vision-casting and team-building event—very important pieces to training which are often overlooked. I always try and get my Senior or Executive Pastor to at least make an appearance.
2. Regularly scheduled equipping.
Monthly or quarterly events designed to include the bigger picture elements, but getting more specific training for specific tasks and skills. This might be larger group (i.e., all of the elementary team), or more targeted groups (i.e., the first grade team).
3. Train the trainers
Regardless of your church size, when you begin equipping others to equip others, you will not only multiply the training that gets done, but in doing so you lessen the burden on everyone. Train others to train their teams, or to become general Children’s Ministry trainers with you. You might also focus on specifics—for example, if you have a great storyteller, have them train all age level teachers to tell great stories.
Apprenticeships are, perhaps, the most effective method of training. Simply have new volunteers work under more experienced leaders to learn how to do what needs to be done. This can be informal, but the more formal and intentional you get, the better.
5. Hallway moments
Hallway conversations can be some of the best ways to train because they are short and focused (if you make them that way). And, perhaps most important, they are specific to the equipping needs of that individual volunteer. But, as the leader, we have to be willing to be intentional about shaping these conversations, and have the courage and confidence to initiate them.
6. Coffee conversations
It’s great to sit down with an individual or small group of volunteers and talk over coffee (or whatever your choice of location might be). I especially like to meet with new volunteers or newly formed teams. As we know, ministry always happens best in the context of relationships, and this is a great way to add the relational element to the equipping process.
7. Cheat sheets
A half-page sheet of paper with tips on certain areas are a great way to allow volunteers to equip themselves. Limit the tips to one topic—discipline, for example—and make them visually appealing. Then hand them out randomly or once a month, or to individuals as you see the need (perhaps leading to that hallway moment). A brief conversation can be followed by them reviewing the tips on their own. Follow up later to see what they thought about them and how they are applying them.