Using The Summer To Be Ready For Fall

Building a volunteer base

Volunteers //

One of my favorite things to do is help people find a place they can get involved in ministry to young people. I’ve never come across a person who couldn’t do something to expand the Kingdom of God. I admit that it takes some a little longer to figure out where they fit. But if they are part of the body of Christ there’s a place for them to minister! Philippians 4:19 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It reminds me that God has promised that He would meet all my needs. This is good news for us who are responsible to build a team to minister to kids, because one of our needs includes the people to pull off ministry. When I realized it was God’s job to provide workers—not mine—it was a huge relief. As long as people are breathing and living on planet Earth, they are candidates for the ministry I work with.

If you have read my book, Volunteers That Stick, you know that I start it off by talking about what the Bible says concerning volunteers. In that first chapter, I talk a lot about something that is a big part of our DNA here at World Outreach Church, that “every believer is a minister”! It’s important that you realize God wants to use you to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ can be built up (Ephesians 4:12).

Before I tell you how we use the summer to recruit, I first need to tell you what not to do! Remember these important don’ts. Bulletin announcements don’t work; even verbal announcements don’t work. Requiring people to work, or recruiting by duty or need doesn’t work either. Before you start looking for more people to join your children’s ministry team, make sure you appreciate the ones you already have. Look for a way to say thank you for those who are presently serving. Folks who know they are appreciated are more likely to re-up to serve again. So, there are the don’ts.

Now, it’s time to define what we are asking people to do. It’s up to you, too, not only to identify every place you could use a worker, but to also let people know that you are asking for a one-year commitment. We average an 87 percent re-enlistment among our workers, but we ask for a year. Then, we give them the opportunity to re-enlist before their term is up. Also, every person wants to know what do you need help doing. The more you let people know what you want them to do and that you’ll train them how you want it done, the more they are willing to say “yes” to helping.

So here’s our formula. We start in the spring and identify what our needs and strategy for the next year are. Next, we plan an appreciation dinner and celebrate with our present workers what God has done through them this past year. At the banquet we introduce our recruiting theme for the new year. This past year our theme was “It’s good for your family!” We ask our team to pray for our recruiting campaign and send them home excited. The next Sunday, we hand out re-enlistment cards and ask them to be the first to say “yes” before we go after new folks.

Our recruiting campaign begins in May of each year by placing a prayer card in the weekly adult bulletins. We use one side of the card to introduce our theme for the year, and on the other side we list several scriptures and ideas we want them to pray over our children. We also want them to pray about what they can do to reach the next generation. We create a video to use as a transition. After the video I come out and call the congregation’s attention to the card and lead them through praying for our kids. This is repeated for the next two weeks and then either my pastor or I preach a sermon about the importance of reaching children. The purpose of this is to build our church’s faith to reach kids and give them vision. Proverbs 29:18 says that “where there is no vision, the people perish.” I think we can agree that the converse is true: where there is vision, people will flourish. On this Sunday, the card that we place in the bulletin lists every place they can serve. We ask them to turn in the card to our children’s ministry team after the service at any of several different places around the church. When they turn in their cards, we exchange them for our paperwork packet. We set the standards high, because people will never rise past your expectations. Our application is the proof of the standards we set. It also helps us know each applicant’s interests and gifting, as well as their experience. We ask for references, which we contact to make sure they should be allowed to work with kids.

We do this for two weeks and then … here comes June. During the month of June we ask people to bring their paperwork back and we start processing each application. Not only do we do a criminal history investigation, we also review their answers and read their spiritual journey. We check all references and do a background check, which is updated every two years. We set up a personal interview to discuss anything questionable or that we need more information about. We also use these forms to make sure all church records are current.

Assignments are made and an invitation is extended to the new workers to begin their training process the month of July. During July we have an orientation meeting where we go through all the general information we want them to know. The same meeting is offered on two different nights so people have a choice, which makes a huge difference in getting people to attend. At the orientation meeting, everyone is divided into areas where they are to serve. They not only meet the leaders involved in that area, but also the other team members. Each department minister trains the folks on specific information that pertains to that department. If any additional training is needed, the dates for that training is communicated, which will also take place in the month of July. We recognize that there is a difference in communicating verbally and training. The communication we give is important but the real training will take place when they watch others teach and then start doing it themselves under direct supervision. The first two weekends in August is when the new workers will have a chance to observe the classroom firsthand.

The new year begins the next week on what we refer to as promotion weekend. This is a big attendance day for the church and a very exciting day for our teams! There is something very special about the start of a school year. Over the next few weeks it’s get-acquainted time for the kids and the teachers. Our first big meeting happens the middle of September when we celebrate the new team members. This is just the first of three tri-annual meetings for our team members. This summertime schedule gets us ready for fall, winter and spring. I believe it will work for you too!

Remember all year long to cheer for your team every chance you get. Say thanks on a regular basis. Practice good communication. The best communication is regular communication. Use meetings to explain your policies and procedures as well as go over the calendar. Always be on the lookout for where ministry is being done alone. Not only do I pray folks in, I keep praying for them. Prayer is a huge difference maker. We do a lot of praying here at World Outreach Church. We come early and pray. We start every meeting with God stories in order to celebrate and remember what God is doing in our midst. Then, we go over weekly info that’s needed and take prayer requests from those who serve.

I want children to grow spiritually, but I also want to see those who serve our children growing spiritually. Throughout the year, I’ll do several skill sets with our workers to help them develop as leaders. We look for every opportunity to promote those who prove themselves faithful. As you constantly help others grow, it will cause your team to develop. The more your team develops, the more people enjoy the victories they share together. People who are growing and seeing results and success want to keep serving. If they feel they are making a difference and they are appreciated, they not only keep faithfully serving, but they’ll recruit others as well!





About the Author

Jim Wideman is considered as an innovator, pioneer and one of the fathers of the modern children ministry movement. He is a speaker, teacher, author, leadership coach and ministry consultant with over 35 years of hands on experience in the local church, Jim has trained hundreds of thousands of children’s and student ministry leaders from all denominations and sizes of congregations around the world. In the 80’s The INCM awarded him with their “Ministry of Excellence Award”, in the 90’s Children’s Ministry Magazine name him one of the 10 Pioneers of the Decade, In 2010 “Children’s Ministry Magazine once again named him one of the “20 Top Influencers in Children’s Ministry, and in 2012 the INCM presented him with their first ever “Legacy Award” for his lifetime achievement in Children’s Ministry. Jim currently oversees all the Next Generation & Family Ministries-Birth through College at World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, TN Jim and his amazing wife Julie, have two successful daughters, two handsome son-in-laws and the cutest grandson ever born!