8 Reasons Why I am Thankful for Children’s Ministry Volunteers

childrens-ministry-be thankful

Children’s Ministry volunteers spend extra time with kids who need it.

I saw this happen during VBS. One child was pushing the limits and required extra attention. Two of my volunteers didn’t even hesitate. They spent the time needed with him and even spoke with his parents when they came to pick him up. By the end of the week, that child showed respect for those volunteers who spent that extra time with him. Another child who attended VBS had just lost an 11 year old friend and was grieving. One of the volunteers listened when he needed to talk, forgetting the schedule and what everyone else was doing. He gave that extra attention and care to a child who desperately needed it. I am thankful for Children’s Ministry volunteers who spend extra time with kids who need it

Children’s Ministry volunteers add fun and laughter.

VBS was scheduled to start in 2 days. The stress level was high and decorations still needed to go up and the team doing it was small. I pictured myself and my husband pulling an all-nighter in the church basement hanging streamers and ocean creatures from the ceiling. And then 8 volunteers showed up (of all ages) and a stressful evening turned into an evening of fun and laughter. The work got done (and it looked great!) and we had such a good time! Volunteers add fun and laughter to jobs that need doing, but they also bring joy to events with kids. Kids need to see joy from volunteers and they need people in their lives who add fun and laughter. I am thankful for Children’s Ministry volunteers who do both.

Children’s Ministry volunteers are committed.

These volunteers commit to a wide variety of roles with a wide variety of time required to fulfill those roles. Not only that, but they are committed to learning and getting better at what they do. I am thankful for volunteers who are committed to serving God with the gifts He has given them for His glory!

Children’s Ministry volunteers are creative.

There is a whole spectrum of creativity and I have worked with volunteers on both ends of that spectrum! I have worked with volunteers who are creative in designing décor and classroom. I have worked with volunteers who are creative in building a team and accomplishing goals. I have worked with volunteers who are creative in finding ways to connect with and relate to kids. I am thankful for the creativity of Children’s Ministry volunteers.

Children’s Ministry volunteers are willing to get down to a child’s level.

They tell terribly unfunny (to adults) jokes because they know that kids will laugh uproariously. They do skits and puppet shows. Our song leader recently told me about how his family was laughing at him because he was in his living room dancing around learning actions to new songs for our Sunday School kids. I am thankful for Children’s Ministry volunteers who are willing to put aside their pride and connect with kids on their level.

Children’s Ministry volunteers often spend many hours outside of their specific role preparing, decorating, and building relationships.

A Sunday School teachers responsibility may be for 1 hour on Sunday morning, but they spend a couple of hours preparing during the week. They also spend extra time decorating their classrooms and getting to know their students. I am thankful for Children’s Ministry volunteers who are willing to spend time outside of their primary responsibilities.

Children’s Ministry volunteers support each other.

I am currently responsible for a team of Sunday School teachers (and a fantastic team they are!). I have discovered over the last few months that I am often the last person to know if someone is going to be away. And that’s not a bad thing, because they are finding replacements, switching schedules, and stepping in to help each other. I love it! On top of that kind of support, volunteers support each other when life gets hard – praying for each other and offering to help where needed. I am thankful for Children’s Ministry volunteers who support each other.

 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:4

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Make Sure You Don’t Make This Mistake When Writing Volunteer Job Descriptions

childrens-ministry-mistake Writing volunteer responsibilities can be the hardest part about putting together a volunteer job description for Children’s Ministry. Just how much information is necessary? Should you err on the side of too much information or too little? How do you find the balance?

Too Much Detail

Here’s an example of a preschool Sunday School teacher job description that is way too detailed:

Specific Responsibilities:

During the week

  • Make a list of the children in your class and pray specifically by name for each child. Also, pray specifically for the Sunday School ministry.
  • Prepare for the lesson you will be teaching on Sunday by following these steps:
    • Find the correct date on the schedule you will be given and the matching lesson number from the curriculum you will be given.
    • Once you have found the lesson you will be teaching, read over the Bible story it is based in your Bible early in the week and make sure you understand it yourself.
    • Look at the Bible point early in the week.
    • Read through the whole lesson.
    • Choose the activities you will use during the lesson (hook, games, crafts, etc)
    • Make sure you have everything you need. If there are supplies needed that weren’t supplied with your curriculum, they may be in the supply cupboards. Check the inventory list.
  • Be in contact with your team to make sure everyone knows what their responsibilities are on Sunday morning.
  • You are responsible for finding a replacement for any weeks you will be absent. Contact the ministry leader at least one week in advance if you are unable to find a replacement for your absence (or as early as possible in the case of illness).

Sunday Morning

  • Arrive at the church at least 15 minutes before the class starts in order to give yourself time to prepare your room and meet with your team.
  • Pray with your team, including your class’s prayer partner, before the children arrive.
  • Note the attendance of each child as they arrive by putting a sticker by their name under the correct date on the attendance chart. Make sure the child have the appropriate identification for pick-up after the service.
  • Teach the Bible lesson in a creative way so that children will learn and grow in their faith.
  • Prepare and serve the snack that will be provided.
  • Stay in the classroom at all times when children are under your supervision. Never leave children unattended in the classroom.
  • Take children to the bathroom according to the Children’s Ministry policies and procedures.
  • Have a fantastic time getting to know the kids in your class, and teaching them about loving God and loving people. Sunday School is a fun ministry. Smile and don’t be afraid to laugh!
  • Report damaged toys/equipment to the Ministry Leader.
  • Report any classroom supplies that are needed to the Ministry Leader (pencils, markers, glue, etc.).
  • Wear your identification name tag whenever you teach Sunday School.
  • Leave room clean, neat, and in good condition after teaching.

Too Little Detail

Here is an example of a job description for a preschool Sunday School teacher that is way to general:

Specific Responsibilities:

  • Prepare and teach Bible lessons for the preschool class.

Find the Balance

The first example had far too much detail for a job description. The second example had hardly any detail at all. When writing responsibilities for a job description, include enough detail so that the potential volunteer has as accurate understanding of the responsibilities of a specific role. It is not necessary to include every single detail of the responsibilities, nor is it necessary to include personal preferences for accomplishing those responsibilities.

Here are some tips for writing responsibilities for Children’s Ministry Volunteer Job Descriptions:

  • If it’s expected, include it – If something is expected of a volunteer for a specific role, include it in the job description. For example,
    • If a volunteer is expected to arrive at a specific time, include it in the job description.
    • If a volunteer is expected to take attendance on a regular basis, include that responsibility in the job description.
  • Include enough information to be clear about responsibilities without going into unnecessary detail.
    • If a volunteer is responsible for teaching the lesson each week, say so without going into detail about how they are to prepare and teach the lesson (save that for training sessions).
  • Differentiate between the responsibilities of volunteers and good ideas for volunteers.
    • In the above example, one of the responsibilities of the preschool teacher is to prepare for the lesson during the week. A good idea for teachers is to prepare early in the week. So, the job description only needs to state that the volunteer is expected to spend some time preparing for the lesson they will teach.
  • Leave space for individual personalities.
    • Responsibilities for volunteers are constant; how each individual volunteer handles those responsibilities is a matter of personality. Don’t make the responsibilities in a job description so specific that individual personalities and creativity is stifled.

Job descriptions are such an important tool for Children’s Ministry leaders and helpful resource for volunteers. When writing job description responsibilities, be specific, clear, and brief.

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Your Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Job Descriptions for New Children’s Ministry Programs

pen in hand

  1. Download the job description template available here. You will be using it so keep it nearby! This step-by-step guide was designed to be used in conjunction with the job description template. It will not make much sense without it so don’t skip this step!
  2. Download the job description instruction guide available here. It contains hints and tips for completing the template that you may find helpful.
  3. At the top of a piece of paper write down the name of the new program in your Children’s Ministry.
  4. Under that heading, list every volunteer position required for the new program. Carefully review all possible volunteer roles required for this new program. You will want an accurate list before you start writing job descriptions.
  5. Grab a blank job description template and get ready to start filling it in!
  6. The first blank space is titled Ministry Position. Choose one of the volunteer roles to start with and write it in here.
  7. In the blank space beside Ministry Leader write the name and contact information of the person who is in charge of this program. This will be the person that a volunteer will contact with questions, concerns, etc.
  8. The last area to fill out in this first box of information is ministry area. Here you want to provide detail about the specific department, for example, “Preschool Sunday School.” If you are a small children’s ministry this may not be pertinent. If this part of the template is not something you will use, delete it. The great thing about this job description template is that is it customizable. Tailor it to fit your situation!
  9. Once you have filled in the basic information about the volunteer position, it’s time to provide more detailed information. A good job description tells a volunteer how long they are committing to a position. Since this is a new program, you may want volunteers to commit to a full year to give the program a chance to take off. You may be testing out a new program and therefore want a commitment of three months from volunteers. Be specific in this section.
  10. Fill in the amount of time each week the volunteer role requires. This part of the job description template is called “Time Commitment.” Be specific about how much time each week this role requires. Include the time at the program, any preparation time, and any before and/or after program expectations. Since this is a new program, be generous in the amount of time required of volunteers. They would rather discover that it takes less time per week than they thought than more time then they would told.
  11. The next section of the job description is where you will specify the qualifications volunteers need to have in this volunteer position. 2 or 3 requirements should be enough. What do you require of your volunteers? If a background check is required for this position, add it to this section.
  12. A good job description will include the training offered to volunteers in this position. Be specific. What training is currently provided for volunteers in this position?
  13. Finally, describe the specific responsibilities of volunteers for this position. In order to be as specific as possible, record the responsibilities during the week (these would include preparation time, for example) and responsibilities the day of (including set up and clean up). Describe exactly what it is you are asking volunteers to do when they agree to this role.
  14. Repeat all the steps for each volunteer position in your new program.
  15. Give a job description to every volunteer who is considering and/or agreeing to the new position.

Here are other articles that you may find helpful:

Why Do You Need A Job Description?
Your Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Job Descriptions for Current Children’s Ministry Programs

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Stuck in a Volunteer Training Rut?

childrens-ministry-stuck-in-a-rutDo you have a favorite way of training your volunteers? I do. My favorite volunteer training method is a group training session. I love having everyone together! It’s a great way of fostering team spirit and it is a great way of see right away if the training topic makes sense. There is nothing wrong with having a favorite way of training. But sometimes we can get into a habit of only providing that type of training and forgetting that they are many other training methods.

Spice things up by using a variety of training methods. Here’s a list of 10 different training methods. Mix and match as you plan your volunteer training for the upcoming year.

10 Training Methods

1. Group Training

Volunteers are invited to attend a training event, usually at the church. The purpose of group training is to offer information, ideas, and encouragement to your group of volunteers as a whole or to a specific group of volunteers, like your nursery care workers or your elementary teachers. Meeting together is important. It’s promotes a team atmosphere and offers an extended learning opportunity.

2. Pop-up Training

Pop-up training is short, practical, on-the-spot training. Pop-up training works best when it’s limited to a small, specific group of volunteers. This type of training is about 2-5 minutes in length and focuses on a single issue. For example, you meet with your toddler teachers before Sunday School and provide 5 minutes of training on how to handle a temper tantrum.

3. Video Training

There are a number of different types of video training, but I am going to focus on customized video training through YouTube or vimeo. You or another leader create a short training video specifically for your volunteers and make it available to them on youtube or vimeo. This type of training is convenient for your volunteers as they can watch it at any time. It’s a good idea to put a deadline on viewing the video and to ask your volunteers to respond via email with some thoughts on the content.

4. Conference Training

There is something energizing and exciting about attending a Children’s Ministry conference. Whether you as leader attend or you and a small group of volunteers attend, it is worth the effort every once in a while. It may not be possible for the entire team to go, but you could send one person and ask them to share what they learned with the team when they return. Also, often seminars and conferences offer video or audio online. Encourage your team to watch or listen to a specific seminar

5. Email Training

Children’s Ministry leaders can send regular training tips and ideas via email. Once a month, send out an email to your team with training tips and ideas. Be careful not to send email training too often. You don’t want to overwhelm your volunteers.

6. Book Training

When you come across a good book or magazine article, share it with your team. Encourage them to share their thoughts when they have read it.

7. One-on-One Training

This is mentoring. Grab a coffee with a volunteer and provide some one-on-one encouragement and training. With this type of training you can be very specific.

8. Shadowing

Partner a beginner with an experienced volunteer. If you have a new volunteer who has never served in Children’s Ministry before, this type of training could be valuable for them. This is training through mentoring. Partner the beginner with an experienced volunteer and training will come through observation and building a relationship with the experienced volunteer. Not all experienced volunteers will be comfortable with this type of training. Meet personally with people you think would be well suited and explain exactly what it will look like. For the beginner, it is an opportunity to watch an experienced volunteer and ask questions as they arise. It is kind of like an apprenticeship.

9. Creating a Handbook

Put together a handbook that is specific to your Children’s Ministry. It should include safety policies and procedures, discipline information, vision, purpose, and mission, as well as anything else you feel will be helpful to your team of volunteers.

10. Webinar Training

Webinars are becoming more and more popular – they are like seminars but delivered over the internet with the seminar provider being in a completely different location. Webinars can be live to a group of volunteers or volunteers can sign in to a webinar from their home computer.

 

Plan a variety of training methods. In the end, you will be able to provide more training through diversity. Offering a variety of training methods also allows you to be strategic. You an offer specific, highly practical training when you use a variety of training methods.

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Bright Ideas For Children’s Ministry

I was recently asked to contribute to a new book that was being released for Children’s Ministry leaders and volunteers. This book is full of tried and tested ideas for Children’s Ministry – Object Lessons, Crafts, Games, Leadership, Missions, Teaching Activities, Technology, and Worship.

50 ideas in one volume – that’s a resource that anyone would want!bright-ideas-cover-md

This book is available on kidology.org.

And even better – here’s a code to get $5 off if you buy the book before the end of the year – SAVE5JH

Check it out and consider adding it to your resource library!

 

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