My Observations of a Small Town Children’s Ministry

Rural church in field.

 

On our recent trip to PEI, my husband and I visited a small Baptist church. It was our privilege to worship with such friendly people.

We were welcomed with open arms (and quite a few hugs!) The congregation might have been small (about 40 people) but they made up for it with such huge hearts!

This church ran Sunday School during the service. The children were dismissed after the singing to their class downstairs.

Children ages 3-9 were in one class. The curriculum chosen was targeted for children in Grade 1.

I was impressed with the volunteers willing to take on such a challenge! It’s not easy teaching a class with children of such varying ages. But these teachers rotate with each other teaching from a very solid curriculum.

So, what were my observations of this small town children’s ministry:

  • Lots of love!
  • Lots of fun!
  • Solid Biblical teaching
  • Committed volunteers who are willing to work with what they have

Sounds like a great children’s ministry to me!

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Why Do You Need a Job Description?

Children's Ministry Job DescriptionDon’t get scared when you read the words “job description!” I know it sounds very formal and intimidating. It’s really just the writing down of what a specific volunteer position looks like. If you prefer, you can call it a Volunteer Position Description.

Why should you have a job description for each volunteer role in your children’s ministry?

The short answer is so that potential volunteers can easily see what is expected of them.

A good job description will tell them exactly what their responsibilities would be, how much time is required for the volunteer position, who they can talk to if they have questions or concerns, what training will be provided for them, and the length of time they are agreeing to volunteer for.

A good job description is a wonderful tool in the hands of a recruiter.

It’s something tangible to give to a potential volunteer. The recruiter can suggest they take it, read it over, and pray about the volunteer role before they give an answer.

How do you write a good job description?

Here’s a template you can work from. It includes all the important pieces of a good job description. You just fill it in, customizing it to your specific role. You can also use this template as a jumping off point to create your own.

Here is a guide for using the template. This guide describes how to fill in the job description template along with some hints and tips.

 

Let me encourage you to create job descriptions for children’s ministry positions in your church! They are very helpful when you are recruiting. They are also great to have when a current volunteer has a question about their volunteer position.

 

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Now is the Time to Start Cultivating Next Year’s Volunteers

childrens ministry cultivate volunteersHere are three ideas to start cultivating next year’s volunteers.

1. Keep the volunteers you already have through appreciation and training

Recruiting is an ongoing issue for children’s ministry leaders. But it is less stressful if you have a core of volunteers who return year after year. The best ways to ensure your volunteers keep coming back are through appreciation and training.

Appreciation

There are many ways to show appreciation to your volunteers. The most important thing is to do it! Here are some ideas for showing appreciation to your volunteers:

Send a thank you card – Write a personal note to each of your volunteers. If you have a lot of volunteers, consider spreading this task throughout the year. Think about each volunteer individually and write a specific appreciation note. Maybe something you noticed about their service and an area of their character that has made an impression on you. Mail these thank you cards to their home address. Knowing that you have taken the time to write a personal card and mail it to them will mean a lot to your volunteers.

Appreciation banquet – Plan a special evening just for your volunteers. It doesn’t have to be really expensive in order to be meaningful to your volunteers. The appreciation evening can be formal or informal. It can be a banquet or a potluck. But take the time to plan out the evening.

  • Here is one idea: offer an appreciation evening where the kids in your children’s ministry prepare, serve, and clean up the meal and plan a program. If the kids are talented musically they may play an instrument or sing a song. Ask a couple of the kids to share why they appreciate their teachers. This appreciation evening idea shows that you are thankful for your volunteers and that they kids they serve appreciate them too!

Seasonal appreciation – you could send out seasonal appreciation gifts. These can be serious or humorous. Let your personality shine in the way you show appreciation to your volunteers!

  • At Christmas you could ask some of the kids to decorate Styrofoam cups. Then add a specialty hot chocolate package and a small packet of mini-marshmallows. Simply wrap it in tissue paper and tie it with ribbon. Add a tag with a simple message “Thank you for serving.”
  • For Valentines you could send valentines cards to your volunteers or package up some Hershey Kisses in a treat bag tied with a ribbon. One possible verse you could write on the tag would be Ephesians 3: 16-19 – “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
  • For spring you could send your volunteers packets of flower seeds. In an attached note tell them that you are so thankful for them and their commitment to growing disciples of Jesus.
  • Take them out for coffee – again, this may depend on how many volunteers you have. Take them out in groups or individually. Use this time to get to know them. Let them know that you appreciate what they do. Be specific if you can.

Give them a break – this appreciation idea is especially significant for those volunteers who have served faithfully over the years. Offer to take one of their teaching days so they can have the weekend off or find a sub who can teach one Sunday for them. This idea works for all scheduling options – year-long, or rotation schedules. Make sure your volunteer understands why you are giving them a break. Let them know that you are thankful for their faithful service and what to encourage and re-energize them by giving them a little teaching holiday.

Training

Offer at least one training seminar each year. If you are not comfortable doing the training yourself, consider asking someone to come and help you. There are many different areas of training for children’s ministry volunteers. Whatever you choose, ensure that it is pertinent to your team.

2. Personally seek out new volunteers

Announcements from the pulpit are a good way to inform the congregation of your volunteer needs and to let them know how best to pray for you, but they are not the best way to find volunteers.

Approach possible volunteers personally. Let them know what your specific need is and why you thought of them. Make sure they understand what you are asking of them and the time commitment you require. Give them time to think and pray about being involved in children’s ministry. Encourage them to ask questions.

3. Ask God to raise up people to serve in needed areas and ask the congregation to pray with you

Spend time praying for the specific people you will need. Pray that they will feel a call to serve in children’s ministry, have a passion to see kids discipled, and a willingness to be a team player.

Ask the congregation to pray with you. Making your prayer needs known to the congregation reminds them that children’s ministry is a vital part of the church and that everyone can be involved through prayer.

Recruiting volunteers can be a daunting task. These tips will help make it a little less so.

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Recruiting – Not Just Anybody

Recruiting is about finding somebody not just anybodyRecruiting can be one of the most stressful on-going aspects of children’s ministry. Volunteers move on or change ministries and the children’s ministry leader is once again searching for a volunteer.

It’s nearing the beginning of the Sunday School year and you still need help in the nursery and 2 Sunday School teachers – never mind volunteers for your mid-week club program! It is very tempting in these situations to find anybody available to serve in the nursery or to teach a Sunday School class.

But recruiting should be about finding somebody, not just anybody.

Understanding the value of your children’s ministry helps you to see that who you recruit to work with the children of your church is very important.

The somebody you are looking for is:

1. Somebody who loves Jesus

The discipleship of our kids is the goal of children’s ministry. Let’s make sure that the people influencing them are people who love Jesus first and foremost.

I spoke to someone recently who remembered a certain Sunday School teacher he had as a child. He looked up to his teacher. This teacher was the cool teacher. When the teacher taught, he listened. Years later, he found out that this teacher was not a Christ-follower. In fact, the old teacher said, “I didn’t believe any of that stuff I was teaching you.”

Sunday School teachers are role-models for our kids. Children will imitate those they admire. So let’s give them volunteers who love Jesus!

2. Somebody who loves kids

This may seem obvious, but it is important that the people serving in our children’s ministries actually love kids. Kids can tell – and kids need people who love them no matter what! Our kids need people who love them enough to pray for them, to discipline them, to disciple them, to listen to them. Loving kids will also help volunteers through the tough times in children’s ministry. People who love kids are volunteers for the long term.

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12: 30-31)

We are called to love God and to love people. When looking for volunteers in your children’s ministry, look for these kinds of people, but make it even more specific – look for people who love kids.

3. Somebody who is gifted in the area you need

God has gifted His people to serve in the Church. Look for people gifted by God for your specific need. Sometimes you will need the gift of teaching, sometimes you will need the gift of administration, sometimes you will need the gift of helps; or perhaps you need someone with a combination of gifts. Ask God to raise up people gifted to serve in children’s ministry and believe that He will provide.

The children in our churches deserve somebody who loves Jesus, who loves them, and who is gifted to serve.

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Welcome to WellEquippedVolunteer.com!

Hi! For my first blog post, I wanted to quickly introduce myself and tell you what I do… and why I’m doing it.
Welcome to WellEquippedVolunteer.com!

THE VERY BEGINNING

I grew up as a pastor’s kid on the prairies. My Mom and Dad love God and have dedicated their lives to serving Him. My parents taught me a lot about loving God and loving people. At 7, I gave my life to Jesus and grew up with a desire to serve God.

After graduating high school, I attended Canadian Bible College (now Ambrose University) where God continued to clarify His call on my life. I graduated with a Bachelor of Religious Education majoring in Christian Education so I could work with kids in a church setting. I met my husband while at Bible College and we’ve embarked on many adventures together!

We live in Winnipeg Manitoba.

I LOVE WORKING WITH CHILDREN!

I have served in large churches and small churches, in a volunteer capacity and in a professional (paid) capacity. I’ve worked in churches with hundreds of children and even taught Sunday School with only a couple of kids in the seats!

Along the way, I’ve served in the nursery, taught Sunday School to all ages, volunteered in and directed VBS’s, volunteered in community children’s programs, designed and served in mid-week club programs and summer day camps, and developed missions programs and projects.

I am passionate about Jesus and kids and the people who work with kids in the church. I want to help empower children’s ministry volunteers – especially those who work in small and rural churches. You give so much of your time and love to this important work and I want to help you become more effective.

I’d love it if you would join me on your journey as a children’s ministry volunteer. Bookmark this blog and come back to it often: I’m going to provide free resources and ideas for you and your fellow children’s ministry volunteers!

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