This quick and easy gift is a great way to show volunteers how much you appreciate them this Christmas season. If your church is not meeting in person, you can also drop this fun gift off on a volunteer’s porch.
Here’s a delicious way to say thank you to volunteers this fall. Download the instructions and tags here.
It was the beginning of a new ministry year. I was excited to have new teachers join our team. We followed our churches policies and procedures of enlisting new teachers, they completed training, and were ready for the new year. In the first few Sundays, I noticed something I needed to discuss with a teacher. Although it wasn’t an immediate concern, I knew it was something that needed to be addressed for her to have the best teaching experience. How could I address it with her? I didn’t have a long term established friendship and I didn’t want to discourage her in her first few weeks of teaching. As I contemplated the situation, the idea of scheduling times to meet individually with our new teachers sounded like a good plan. I wanted to have an informal discussion and hear about their first few weeks of teaching. I contacted them and scheduled time to meet with each of the new teachers. I shared with them four questions I’d like to discuss. Here are the questions I used when I met with the teachers:
1. What have you enjoyed the most about teaching?
2. What challenges have you experienced while teaching?
3. What do you wish you would’ve known before you began teaching?
4. How can we support you as you teach?
These questions led to rich conversations and an opportunity not only to hear of his or her experience in the classroom but served as a step in building a relationship with a new teacher. I found it so useful that I began implementing the same process with all new volunteers. It provided me an avenue to learn and listen to others. These conversations reminded me of a perspective of a new teacher, which can be easily overlooked.
Through these conversations, I gained helpful and useful information. I discovered possible future training topics. We established open communication at the beginning of their time serving. As a result, the teachers felt more comfortable sharing the joys of teaching, expressing concerns, and asking questions. I discovered this process helped the teachers feel more invested in the ministry and part of the team. They knew their opinion and needs mattered. What began as an idea to reinstruct a teacher became one of the most useful tools for me as a leader. I challenge you to make a priority to connect and ask questions of your volunteers. What questions would you add to the ones above? What questions would be most beneficial for you to ask?
Fall is a time that we have new leaders and seasoned leaders serving in our children’s ministry areas. Have you done anything lately to show them how much you appreciate them? This year it may be more important than ever! Check out the simple project below:
Get a group of kids ministry leaders together and invariably the twin subjects of enlisting and equipping volunteers emerge. The fact that we’re experiencing a global pandemic only intensifies the conversation. Truthfully, for the last few years, we’ve known that we need to develop new models of volunteer training. The impact of COVID-19 on in-person gatherings has accelerated that quest.
For many of us, our work lives are now consumed with virtual meetings as we sit in front of the cameras on our laptops or desktop computer monitors. We try to maintain some kind of decorum amidst barking dogs, slinking cats, and yelling kids. Naturally, some of us have begun to transition volunteer training from in-person to virtual gatherings using some of the same tools we use for our jobs.
Last week I led both live virtual training and pre-recorded virtual training, much like many of my colleagues are doing. I’m still learning the best way to present training content in virtual settings; however, here are some of my observations to date:
- Ignore attendance numbers. For live video training, resist the temptation to focus on how many are actually online at the same time you are teaching. The training session is probably being recorded so that people can watch it at their leisure.
- Pretend you are in a physical room with participants. The live training I led last week was in the form of a webinar, so I could neither see nor actively interact with the attendees. However, the meeting host did two helpful things. First, she started and ended the session. Second, she monitored the online chat so she would be able to communicate applicable questions to me during the last part of the session.
- Allow for interaction with attendees. Whether the discussion is live or via chat, participants in the training will be more engaged if they are able to communicate with you or a designated online facilitator.
- Dress appropriately. I pre-recorded two training sessions last week and dressed as if I were standing in front of an actual group of people. The camera on my laptop only captured my person from the waist up, so technically I could’ve worn shorts and flip-flops. Instead I was in khakis and nice shoes. Dressing in business or business casual attire affects how you feel about yourself as you lead the training, regardless of how much of you people actually see.
- Use visuals. People grow bored if all they see is a talking head on screen. Visuals could include presentation slides, as well as, physical posters and props.
- Consider handouts. If the content lends itself to an interactive handout, make a PDF of the handout available to virtual attendees.
The more you and I train volunteers virtually, the more comfortable we’ll become. Nothing will completely take the place of live, in-person training in which relationships are formed. However, when we can’t interact with conferees face-to-face, we can still provide training and encouragement virtually.
LifeWay Kids has developed an online training course for new volunteers. You can find it on our Kids Ministry From Anywhere page in the training section.
Landry Holmes is the Manager of LifeWay Kids Ongoing Bible Studies and Network Partnerships, Nashville, TN, and is a graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The author of It’s Worth It: Uncovering How One Week Can Transform Your Church and general editor of the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids, Landry is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. He teaches kids at his church in Middle Tennessee, where his wife Janetta is the Preschool Minister. They enjoy spending time with their two adult sons and their wives, and spoiling their grandchildren.
Let your volunteers know they shine. Show them your thanks by attaching these tags to a candle.
Let your volunteers know you appreciate them. Attach one of these tags to a notebook for a fun surprise.