The Essential Basics That You NEED to Include in Your Volunteer Training

Volunteer Training

How often do you train your volunteers? This has become quite the buzz question for children’s ministry. As we know, basic laws and guidelines are always changing, but so are the kids we are ministering to. So with all this in mind, do we truly equip our leaders to be effective in what they do?

I have heard of online trainings, paper handouts and actual meeting formats. The question I am most often asked is “how often?” As with any program or ministry, I think it depends on your format. For example, we operate in seasons; our children’s ministry runs traditional Sunday school and kids church from September to June. We then switch gears to summer Sunday blast for the summer, which makes up a separate team of volunteers. So our trainings are geared for the season that they will serve in.

While I appreciate this model, and love the fact that my team does effective training for what is to come, the danger here is losing the basics. We have discovered that as the seasons change, we update the ever changing elements but have at times failed to bring the basic elements along for the ride. This is an easy mistake to make, especially if you have returning volunteers that you feel know this information already. Repetition is your friend in this case. You may be wondering, what are the basic elements?

Basic elements: (elements that need to be known regardless of when they serve)

Seasonal elements: (elements that can vary depending on when they serve)
  • curriculum shift/how to prepare etc.
  • format change
  • sets/skits/music
  • volunteer scheduling
While we have teachers that have been in our children’s ministry for 30 years, we also have those who are just starting. It is no surprise that they are equally curious about changes—if you poll your faithful volunteers who have been there for several years you will most likely find that they enjoy the training and the updates. Teams like to know what is expected of them, and when you as a leader put forth effort to train them and keep them current they feel invested in.
So with that in mind, how does someone with a ministry model like mine do that with having weekly meetings? We have decided to go with a combination. As with many employers, there are monthly safety meetings. Our seasonal items will continue in a rally/meeting training atmosphere where we will cover the basics as well. And to keep those basic elements up to speed and at the surface, there is a monthly handout that accompanies a “thank you” for serving.
And don’t forget background checks! Not mentioned above as that is before any other training.
This article originally appeared here.
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Heidi M Hensley
Heidi Hensley is currently the Children’s Minister at Shadow Mountain Church in El Cajon, Ca. and has over 23 years of ministry experience. Heidi has a passion for teaching kids that they can be spiritual giants and building strong teams of volunteers who lead them well. She lives in San Diego, CA with her husband, Jason, and two sons. With a strong love for coffee and surfing, she is grateful that her boys also love both of those things!

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