Discipleship is a team sport, and that means every kids ministry needs a strong support system of volunteers. But volunteers need support too. Today’s post has three ways to get your volunteers to run away from serving in your kids ministry (and of course, some ideas about how to make them want to stay.)
You can make your volunteers run away if you …
1. Never explain the “why” when things change.
What you do is always changing. When it does, just keep the reason for the change a big secret, and your volunteers are sure to lose interest over time. For example, maybe you implemented a new check-in policy for safety, and parents no longer walk all the way to their child’s classroom to pick them up or drop them off. If you communicate with volunteers that safety is the reason for your change, they may become more invested and stay longer. If you want to see volunteers hit the road, just keep the reasoning to yourself.
2. Always are a last minute planner.
The best volunteers love to make themselves available to help out when things change at the last minute. To make sure they abandon their roles as volunteers, don’t do any long-term planning. When everything is planned at the last minute, people will be sure to burn out, or just not show up. Long-term planning and communication makes it possible for volunteers to make serving at church a sustainable part of their lives. Keep them on their toes by planning everything late, and they’ll be gone so fast you’ll forget they were ever there.
3. Never say thank you.
This may be the most important step. If you make sure volunteers never know that you appreciate them, they’ll make sure to find something else to do. When people feel personally appreciated, they’re more bought in, so be careful not to recognize anyone for their individual contribution. Volunteer appreciation events are a huge no-no. These will keep people engaged and help volunteers build meaningful relationships with each other, and even with you! Just keep your head down and don’t say anything, and the exit doors will start swinging.
All kidding aside, imagine how discouraging it would be to volunteer and serve in a ministry that did all these things consistently. Unfortunately it can be all too easy for us to lead this way in kids ministry, even when we don’t intend to. But when we are intentional to explain the why, plan in advance, and say thank you, we can build great teams.
Proverbs 22:6 reminds us to “teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” It’s so much easier to do this as part of a team, so go invest in one of the volunteers from your ministry this week.
Logan Meek serves on the CentriKid Camps team. Logan began serving with Student Life and Lifeway after spending two years as a Sixth Grade teacher with Teach For America. He believes in the importance of strong kids ministry to help kids build strong spiritual foundations.