My current pastor gently corrected a colleague recently when she referred to our servant-leaders as ‘volunteers.’ PTA recruits volunteers. We recruit servant-leaders.  Most of my conversations with colleagues at other churches revolve around building their servant-leader team. Anyone else feel like a new church start? Yep, we all do!

I had a great conversation with a new-to-director Children’s Ministry champion last week and we chatted through several ideas:

Open House – Invite all kids and their parents/grandparents to a 30 minute open house after a Sunday service. Build it up, think sandwich boards worn by kids to promote. Post jumbo post-its on the walls in the kid’s area with “Sunday Morning”, “Hospitality”, “CLUB345”, “Missions”, and “Special Events” with cups of crayons below each one. Pull a Vanna White sharing a 1 minute elevator pitch in front of each one inviting those in attendance, “If you’d like more information about >>>, write your name and email/phone number on this post-it note (their choice for how to be contacted), and our team will get back to you.” Every 10 minutes, play a game of rock, paper, scissors for prizes OR pull carnival tickets for $5 RaceTrac/QT gift cards for tasty beverages. Prizes for kids AND adults in attendance. End in a fun interactive prayer and make those phone calls by week’s end.  Lots of energy, music (bluetooth speaker, even), and have your kid’s space shine!

Chill & Chat  or Taco ‘Bout – Promote this 1.5-2 hour event as a time to ‘get more information’ about the church’s ministry with kids/families.  Put up the jumbo post-it notes with similar headings as above and offer  a similar 1 minute elevator pitch followed by inviting someone in the room to share a story about their experience in that area. Lots of other voices will be telling great stories. Offer a take-away book with some meat to it that speaks to how the ministry will support them as parents, grandparents, etc.. Your current servant-leaders are your best recruiters so give time for some general chatting. Follow up with thank you notes to everyone who attends and especially those who shared a story. Offer a tour of the spaces, too. I have Ambassadors take care of this part. This is also where parents/grandparents get the first-look at what’s coming in the ministry for the upcoming season or school year.

Mission Field – Bring a suitcase and visit an adult Sunday school class. Say, “This is what I know about you. As a Christian you always wanted to be a missionary.  But you had to work, had little people, or maybe were taking care of big people. Perhaps now is the time. What if I were to offer you a 1-year gig (big hairy ask!) and you wouldn’t have to take shots and you could sleep in your own bed? Would you consider it? Being a missionary, I mean?” Give pause. Say, “I’m asking you and a friend to serve as a missionary, one month on and one month off, to serve in the mission field of children’s ministry on Sunday morning for 1 year.”  “I ask for you and a friend because Jesus never sent our his disciples one at a time, but in pairs or threes or up to 70 to do what He asked, and He asks in the scriptures for us to lead the littles to Him.” Oh, and come bearing goodies by bringing a box of biscuits or donuts along with the suitcase.

Church Committee Meetings – Find out when the Trustees, Staff-Parish Relations, and Finance Committees are meeting next. Leave a box of yummy goodies, a bowl of ice, cold water bottles, you get the idea. Add a note or picture signed by kids in your ministry inviting one (and a friend…see above) to serve together at an upcoming event, or say THANK YOU for making the ministry possible by the decisions they make. It will delight them to know you appreciate their hard work of ministry, too.

Lord, Who? Prayers – Write Lord, who? on your car windshield with a sharpie and as you drive pray for a name to reach out one-on-one. One-on-one invites are the best and really should be done all the time.  Whoever the Lord gives you, make contact. Don’t’ talk yourself out of it. You never know how the Lord is working in that person’s life and they are just waiting for the invite to do something about it.

Youth Milestone – If you have access to your church’s youth group, make serving in Children’s Ministry a faith milestone of one month on and one month off for a year. Make them jump through the hoops necessary for training and equipping so they are aware of the expectations to be a great servant-leader. This is first-job training kind of stuff. Talk to them about what they’re doing well. You can talk to them about how they can do something better. Speak into their lives the opportunity to serve others well and with excellence and be sure to tell them WHY something is important. Remind them they’ll need reference letters for jobs and college program applications in the future and you can help them with that.

Faith Milestones and Grandparents – Faith Milestones are those once a year special events which mark a remarkable season of life with a spiritual training like Bread & Juice, I Can Pray, Acolyte, I Love My Church and the like. We require our students to have an adult with them at most Faith Milestones. If that adult is a grandparent, that grandparent is all-in to support and join in sharing sacred experiences. I will always reach out the next week to invite him/her to serve at something their grand might participate in.

“We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Romans 12:5