Effective ministry with children and families can not take place without a team of folks who love the Lord with their whole hearts, sacrificing time and brain space to littles and bigs for Jesus. Even Jesus insisted He was not a one-man show before His glorious resurrection by modeling and sending out his disciples two at a time. A good visible example of this kind of sending out is in one of the early season three episodes of The Chosen. But I digress.
The number one challenge I get phone calls about from fellow kidmin champions in the trenches is not having enough volunteers. They ask, “How do I get them?”, “Where do they come from?”, and “Why don’t they see how important this is?” I can relate because Sunday keeps coming. Take a deep breath.
What else is coming is that a good percentage of my entire ‘congregation’ will age out every year (I’m responsible for kindergarten thru 5th grade). Gone. Those 5th graders are going to be 6th graders no matter what. I could lament their leaving, but I prefer to look at them as ‘going into the mission field.’ Children’s Ministry is a sending ministry starting with relationships.
God called His people in the Old Testament to test Him by returning to Him a 10% tithe of their resources. People are your resources. Yes, money is nice, space is great, and priority at the table is important, but you can not do ministry with littles and bigs without other people.
What if you spent 10% of your weekly work time with, for, or about recruiting, retaining, appreciating, and growing in relationship with your volunteers? You’d be surprised how you could multiply and grow the ministry to love more kids to Jesus and your own faith. A 10-hour/week staff member dedicating one hour each week to volunteerism can go a long way to growing relationships because ministry with children is all about relationships.
20-hour/week staff member ~ 2 hours/week re: volunteers
30-hour/week staff member ~ 3 hours/week re: servant leaders
40-hour/week staff member ~ 4 hours/week re: team of laity laying it all out there
What to do to tithe or ‘return to our great God’ our best resources?
- Pray daily ‘Who, Lord?’ (I write this with a sharpie on my windshield for the commute), then make the cold call. The first call/email can NOT be about THE ASK, but rather, “My name is DeDe and I serve the littles and their bigs at McEachern Methodist church and I saw you at church on Sunday. I wanted to get to know you better so I thought I’d give you a call.”
- Good questions to prompt the conversation: “Tell me how you came to McEachern?”, “How long have you been at McEachern?”, “Who is your best friend at church?” Not an interview, but just a couple of prompts and listening to toss the conversational ball back and forth. Take notes during or after the call. Close the conversation with, “Thank you for letting me get to know you a little better. I’m delighted to be at our church and I look forward to seeing you at church.” Short, sweet, confident, the start of a relationship. If you serve at their church, you’re family.
- Other tithing practices can include monthly appreciation swag, hand-written notes of appreciation, send a text, invite someone to tea/coffee or chips & salsa, drop off something in their home mailbox, pray through their classroom, hold a volunteer team meeting, meet for lunch/breakfast/dessert, comment on their social media feeds. Design a training meeting, compose a thank-you post to recognize your team on social media, be available and accessible before and after programming and services, attend a concert or special event together, text pictures of their family taken at the last church event. Sharing life! Make new friends and grow in deeper relationship with first friends. THIS is the church.
Ministry is all about relationships, not the tasks, not the curriculum’s ‘big idea’, but relationships. Relationships where Jesus is the center and the Holy Spirit is the binding force to grow us closer to Him and closer to one another. Yes, the tasks of copies, cleaning, organizing, and shopping (my least favorite part of ministry) need to get done, but your greatest delight at the end of your professional journey will not be the Christmas Eve Children’s Moment in 2021, but rather the people and relationships you tithe back to the Lord. Can you name them? There are a whole bunch I hope to share a mansion and the golden streets with in Glory forever. We’ll be singing at the top of our lungs and laughing our heads off of our new bodies.
“She is clothed in strength and dignity and she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25