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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Bigger is Better, Right?

Are you a small children’s ministry? Do you sometimes look at larger children’s ministries and think, “If only we had their budget, their volunteers, their space?”

Bigger has become equated with better. Bigger children’s ministries have more money, more space, and more volunteers. That must mean that they offer more value to the kids who attend their programs. They must offer better children’s ministry.

We all have these thoughts. But is bigger automatically better?

Where does the true value come from in children’s ministry?

Making DisciplesRelationships

The true value in children’s ministry is not in the budget or the space, it starts with the relationships you and your team build with the kids in your care. Do you take the time to get to know the kids in your programs? Do you start outreach programs with the express purpose of getting to know the kids in your community? Building relationships is a key part of children’s ministry.

Gospel

Children’s ministry is important because it is an opportunity to share the gospel in an age-appropriate, targeted manner with kids that you have been building a relationship with. Budgets, space, and a huge volunteer base won’t mean anything if they are not being used to help you share the gospel with the kids who attend your programs. The gospel is key; it’s central to everything we do in children’s ministry. Are you regularly sharing the gospel with the kids in your ministry?

Are you making disciples?

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

This is what it’s all about: Children’s Ministry is about making disciples. Jesus commands us to make disciples. The true value in children’s ministry is the opportunity it allows us to make disciples of kids. We build relationships, we share the gospel. Why? In order to make disciples. And when children do put their trust in Jesus, we build them up as disciples teaching them how to pray, how to study their Bibles, how to use the gifts God has given them to serve and build up the church.

Are you making disciples in your children’s ministry?

Budget

Whatever your budget is, use it to build relationships, share the gospel, and make disciples.

Volunteers

However many volunteers you have, make it your goal as a team to build relationships, share the gospel, and make disciples.

Space

Whether you have a huge amount of space or one small classroom, creatively use the space you have to help you build relationships, share the gospel, and make disciples.

So, is bigger always better? Not necessarily. The focus shouldn’t be on how big your children’s ministry is. The focus should be on making disciples. It doesn’t really matter what size your budget is, what size your space is, or what size your volunteer team is. What matters is whether you are using those things to help you make disciples.

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