Five Reasons Why People Don’t Volunteer

people don't volunteer

If you’ve been in children’s ministry any length of time, then you know just how essential volunteers are.

Like flowers need sunshine.

Like sails need the wind.

Like birds need wings.

Children’s ministry NEEDS volunteers.

Also, if you’ve been in children’s ministry longer than a day, then you know just how scarce those special people we call volunteers can be.

Know of any church that has all their volunteer spots filled?

Me neither.

There could be many reasons why people don’t volunteer in children’s ministry.

Some of those reasons we can do nothing about. They are simply out of our control.

However, many of the reasons that keep people away from children’s ministry can be addressed and fixed.

I hope that this blog post will help you evaluate your current volunteer situation and provide you with at least one actionable step towards improving it.

REASON #1
People are either not called to children’s ministry or in a season of life where children’s ministry is not right for them.

In the Kingdom of God and in the family of God, there are all kinds of things that need to be done. God calls and equips different people for different kinds of work.

Youth ministry, prison ministry, men and women’s ministry, food pantry, caring for widows and orphans, financial mentoring, music, maintenance, administration, hospitality, tech, and on, and on, and on.

The needs and opportunities are endless, and children’s ministry is just one item on a long list.

Also, even if someone is called to children’s ministry, they may be in a stage of life where it’s not right for them… for a season.

Examples include (but are not limited to) people who are…

  • Experiencing health challenges

  • In the middle of a lengthy and challenging adoption process

  • Caring for an elderly parent who just moved in with them

  • Preparing to get married

This is one reason that we can do nothing about, but it is an important one to acknowledge. And here’s why:

  • So you don’t take it personally when someone says no to you. INSTEAD: Encourage them to find their place in God’s story and/or celebrate when they step out to serve God even if it’s not in the children’s ministry arena.

  • So you don’t view other ministries as your competition and avoid the comparison trap. All work is God’s work, and ultimately it is His job to decide — Who? Where? and When? (For case study, check out Peter’s pity party in John 21:18-23.)

  • So you can continue to love and encourage people when they are not “useful” to the children’s ministry. Even when someone needs to step down for a season, it doesn’t mean that our relationship should stop. On the contrary, they may need us now more than ever before.

Now that the first reason is out of the way, let’s take a look at the other four that you can actually do something about.

REASON #2
People don’t understand what they are being asked to do.

Saying, “We need more people in children’s ministry” sounds vague and uninspiring.

People won’t volunteer if it takes too much work to find out what it’s all about.

SOLUTION: Break volunteer responsibilities down into things people can picture, and they are more likely to respond.

“We need 5 more people in our 1st grade class — to build friendships, make church fun and help kids experience Jesus. We’ll bring all the snacks and lesson supplies, and you’ll just show up ready to high-five, smile, listen, and talk about our Jesus.”

For an example of a clear recruitment campaign, check out Honey, I Shrunk KidMin campaign.

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Dema Kohen is a children's pastor with 25+ years of ministry experience. He has a passion for ministering not only to children, but also to those who serve children. By offering encouragement, inspiration and practical wisdom he helps many shepherds of children's souls succeed in their calling and stay with it for a long haul.