If you are involved with Children’s Ministry at your church, you know all too well that securing volunteers requires constant attention! I was becoming disenchanted with not having “depth” in the number of volunteers at our church when a friend suggested a recruiting strategy that had been used at her previous church. Briefly, the strategy was to recruit volunteers via an informative luncheon that appealed to a sense of purpose, mission, and utilization of God-given gifts.
WHEN/WHERE: Since January and February can be “doldrum” months, we intentionally scheduled our “volunteers recruiting” luncheon for a Sunday in February. By holding the luncheon immediately following church service and hosting the luncheon at the church building, chances increased that folks would commit to attending. We also found that some folks felt God’s “nudging” that day during church services and attended the event.
ADVERTISING: This was the most critical aspect to our success.
- In January, various aspects of Children’s Ministry were videoed. Some of the current volunteers were filmed individually, briefly explaining why they volunteer, where they volunteer (nursery, preschool, elementary grades, etc.), and what they do as a volunteer. Their vignettes underscored the passion associated with serving in Children’s Ministry. Additionally, candid vignettes of kids were videoed which showed some of the activities that occur within Children’s Ministry. (You must secure parents’ written permission before videoing their children!) The video segments were sequenced together and interspersed with motivational printed phrases and background music into a “full” video of less than five minutes. This not only “painted a picture” of Children’s Ministry, the passion of the current volunteers was FELT! One minute segments of the video were shown during “announcement time” in each church service for three weeks before the luncheon, followed by a slide stating the logistics for the luncheon.
- Logistics for the luncheon were announced in the church’s usual communication systems for three weeks preceding the event, encouraging people to respond so we had an approximate headcount. (While we did not specifically invite the families of everyone who responded, the day of the event we welcomed families who came and instructed the parents to keep their children with them throughout the event.)
- Invitations to the luncheon were also extended via personal phone calls.
“TO DO’S” BEFORE THE LUNCHEON EVENT:
- Arrange for the luncheon to be catered and served. This will free you to interact with others on the day of the event, and the caterer will clean afterward.
- Select a variety of current volunteers to speak briefly during the event. The “mix” of the current volunteers speaking should include a variety of ages, genders, ethnicity, and experience.
- Plan a physical tour of the various settings comprising your Children’s Ministry. For example, in our church this included the check-in station, nursery, preschool class, and the settings for elementary-aged children. Simply doing a tour on the day of the event lessens apprehensions, allowing potential volunteers to imagine themselves in the settings.
- Copy sample lessons for the respective settings
- Invite your lead pastor to the luncheon.
- Copy your church’s volunteer application packet.
- Secure a photographer—even if it is someone taking pictures via their phone
- Prepare table centrepieces.
- Print Scriptures about individuals using their gifts to bless others, etc. (Scatter these on the tables as “subliminal messages” while folks are eating.)
AGENDA FOR THE DAY OF THE LUNCHEON:
- Prepare the tables including the centerpieces and the inspirational messages.
- Opening prayer with an emphasis on utilizing God-gifts.
- Enjoy lunch and interacting with others!
- After the allotted time for eating, formally welcome all participants. Include Scriptures related to the importance of building God’s kingdom within children, God blessing each of us with gifts that are intended to benefit others, etc. Share your personal passion for Children’s Ministry and some cute, “endearing” stories of children’s antics and comments (keep the children’s names anonymous).
- Show the five-minute video. Because this contains many individuals sharing their passion for Children’s Ministry, the stage will be set for “potentials” to become volunteers.
- At the end of the video, say something about wanting the participants to join the special group of children’s ministry volunteers who shape the faith & lives of children. Explain that the whole group will tour the settings for Children’s Ministry, hearing from current volunteers in each setting, seeing sample lessons, and having their questions answered in each setting.
- Tour the settings that comprise Children’s Ministry at your church. Have a current volunteer in each area speak about the JOY he/she receives from volunteering, how lessons and supplies are organized, how training is provided, how often he/she volunteers, how volunteers are scheduled, and other pertinent information. Allow for questions and answers before leading to the next setting.
- Repeat the above for each predominant setting associated with Children’s Ministry at your church.
- At the last setting, review your church’s required procedures for volunteers (such as background checks) and distribute application forms. Close with prayer and dismiss everyone.
- Write thank you notes to all who attended—to the caterer, the current volunteers who spoke at the event, the potential recruits, the lead pastor—everyone! In each note to “potential recruits,” include a statement that you are looking forward to receiving his/her application materials.
- Promptly respond to each application by guiding him/her through the steps for a background check and conversing about which age group/setting is of most interest.
- Continue to follow-up with those who do not submit an application. Offer to schedule a time for him/her to observe one of the classes. There is a fine line between encouraging and pressuring, lean on God to guide you.
- When background checks and other application requirements have been successfully completed, schedule a time for each new volunteer to observe an experienced volunteer in the age group/setting preferred. Converse with the new volunteer afterward to ascertain any uncertainties, answer questions, etc. Ask the individual if he/she is ready to be scheduled for leading a group of children or if he/she would like to observe again. Continue this as many times as necessary to build the new volunteer’s confidence.
- When a new volunteer leads a group of children for the first time, check with him/her promptly afterward about how things went, answer questions, and offer encouragement.
The luncheon event increased the number of Children’s Ministry volunteers at our church by about 50%! Yes, it was worth it! More importantly, the children of our church are being positively impacted by dedicated, nurturing, caring individuals!
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