Face it. When volunteers raise their hands and offer to help, leaders in churches hungry for workers often push and push to the limit. Signing up for children’s ministry often implies volunteering for a long tenure—sometimes until death do us part!
Has your list of available workers grown smaller than the mustard seed your pastor uses in his children’s message every year? Do people run when they see you coming because they suspect you’ll recruit them to help . . . again?
If so, you may want to consider working with Volun-TIERS, instead of volunteers. Create some jobs with greater responsibilities, some with a little less, and some with very limited duties. In other words, create tiers or levels of service. Here’s the idea in 3 simple steps:
1. List all the positions. Break down some of your larger positions into several opportunities for service.
For example, one church went without a Sunday school director for three years! It fell on the pastor’s wife to keep this children’s program afloat. Then the church took another look. They broke the job down into several segments. A Sunday school secretary took attendance, distributed the offering plates, and turned the money in at the church office each week. Two moms agreed to direct the traditional children’s Christmas service. The Children’s Pastor took on responsibility for teacher training. All this freed the new director to recruit and encourage teachers, set a vision and communicate it, assign classrooms, order materials and supplies, and communicate with parents.
Does the director still have a big job? You bet! But with many former duties spread out among other workers, her job seems at least doable! And she’s encouraged each week as all those adult helpers scurry around the children’s area, sparking enthusiasm in one another for the service they are carrying out in Jesus’ name!
While you’re breaking down jobs, don’t get carried away! Remember to analyze tasks from a ministry perspective. Even if you could find 52 folks willing to rotate into the teacher roster for this year’s fourth grade Sunday school class, would you really want to staff the position that way? No! The children need consistent role models, consistent teaching, and consistent love. So sacrifice true disciple-making on the altar of making life easy for every volunteer, but do help your teachers understand the vital disciple-making role entrusted to them.
2. Create a bank of names. Include people who have served in the past, but also those who have never served. Think of individuals who have the gifts and willingness, but perhaps limited time and energy.
Consider developing a vocabulary everyone can learn to understand. A tier-one job may require the equivalent of 60 minutes a week for one month. A tier-two job could demand an hour a week for a year. A tier-three job may involve an hour a week, plus two team meetings each month. You get the idea.
3. Recruit fresh volunteers. Once you have the tier system and the name bank in place, use them in your recruiting efforts. State clearly the time and energy commitment you’re asking for. Get specific! For instance: “This is a tier-one task that involves picking up three children from the families of recent immigrants and bring them to Sunday school each Sunday morning during November.”
Assure your recruits they can reenlist when their term of service ends, if they like, but right now, you’re only asking, for example, for four Sunday mornings next month.
Rotate volunteers, all the while encouraging them, publicly recognizing them, thanking them, and praying for them. People need breaks. Fresh servants make for fantastic service!
While finding volunteers may never be a snap, it’s just possible that recruiting volun- TIERS will help to dry the tears of otherwise overworked and exhausted recruits who love the Lord and want to serve his people!