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Leadership | Orange Revolution | 3: Retaining Your Team

Five response areas are more likely to indicate an employee is feeling engaged on his or her team:

1. Overall employee satisfaction

2. Likelihood of employee to recommend employment to a friend

3. Likelihood of employee to recommend the complany’s products and services

4. Likelihood of employee to remain employed at least two more years

5. Willingness of employee to give extra effort when asked

Getting the right people on the bus is only the first step. Retaining leaders is more difficult.

The above list is great for those of us with a paid staff, but many of the children’s ministry leaders who read this blog are on their own. Still, we can’t do ministry on our own; we all have a staff of volunteers who we hope will be with our ministries for the long haul.

Volunteer satisfaction is often the first budget line-item to get the ax when money is tight. After all this is ministry, right? People who follow Jesus should just serve because it’s what followers of Jesus do. And while that’s certainly a true statement, the reality of what leaders face each week prove that we need to invest in our volunteers if we have any hope of retaining our current people and recruiting others.


You need a base line of how you’re volunteers are feeling. The five statements above can easily become a survey you can send out using a free service like Survey Monkey. As long as you have email addresses, you’re good to go.

Make this survay on a scale of 1 – 6. This way people have to choose one side or the other. Don’t give them a chance to just rank all 3′s. Always give them room to comment, but allow the answer to land on scale so you can quantify the data.

1. How would you rate your overall satisfaction?

2. How likely would you recommend that someone serve in this ministry?

3. How likely would you recommend our children’s ministry to a neighbor looking for a church?

4. How likely will you serve again next year?

I would make the fifth question open ended to get a pulse for how volunteers feel about going above and beyond. Volunteers with good morale will be more likely to feel honored that they are asked to invest further into your ministry.

5. How do you feel when you are asked to serve outside of your regular schedule or role?



Once you have the base line, you can move forward with raising the bar for volunteer care. Many people have written books and blogs about caring for volunteers, but here are just a few.

1. Over-communicate the Why: People need constant reminders as to why they serve the next-generation. Often there is not an immediate return on the time they invest into the lives of kids. Remind them of how important these years are in the faith formation of the child. Publicly share stories when God shows up in the lives of kids and small group leaders. These are a big reminder of the WHY.

2. Have Fun: Serving is often messy. Anytime you put a bunch of broken and redeemed people in a group to work on a common task complexities take over and personalities clash. Don’t take yourselves too seriously. Make serving enjoyable.

3. Ongoing Appreciation: You can’t throw one party a year and expect people to feel appreciated. Yes, you should still throw a big volunteer Ovation each year, but you also need to regularly have moments when you send cards, have donuts, publicly thank, or grab coffee together.

4. Ongoing Training: Just as appreciation doesn’t happen in one event, the same goes for training. You can’t fit everything into one event that only a percentage of your team will attend. Create podcasts that target specific topics you need addressed and send them out strategically. Create a coaching structure for new small group leaders to get on-the-job training in working with kids.

As you invest in your volunteers and give them ownership of the process, their morale will grow. They will love serving and will ultimately become the best recruitment tool for your ministry.

What would you add to the action plan? I’d love to hear your ideas!

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Dan Scott serves as the elementary director at Ada Bible Church, which is outside of Grand Rapids, MI. He establishes the vision for programming including curriculum, volunteer care, and environment. Dan enjoys sharing ideas and encouragement from his life and ministry. He has a busy speaking and writing schedule and was recently named one of Children's Ministry Magazines' 20 leaders to watch. Dan and his wife Jenna have four kids: Liam, Ellison, Addison, and Taye.