Our friend Gina McClain, Director of Children’s Ministries at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, TN, shares the 5 critical things to build a strong volunteer team.
1. Build the Team You Want
Whether you’re starting with a clean slate or working to strengthen an existing team, a strong group of volunteers can make or break your ministry. So don’t ask, “Who can I get?” Ask, “Who do I want?”
2. Filter Your Team
When I first began serving in children ministry someone told me, “In God we trust—all others are screened.” It’s true: Kids’ safety is a high priority. And filtering your team is the first step in safety. Use background checks and face-to-face interviews.
3. Determine Team Structure
Preparing for growth is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your existing team and your church leadership.
- Determine your first level of shepherding in your ministry. These team members are your front-line, hands-on ministers to kids and families. They’re the teachers you trust to shepherd your kids.
- Choose shepherds for your shepherds. Identify who’s responsible for shepherding your volunteers.
- Clarify your team structure. This gives you a vantage point to see where you are and where you need to go–and what weak spots you may have.
- Track weekly attendance and monitor trends. Use these numbers to predict when you need to add teachers and leaders to the first and second levels of shepherding.
4. Equip Your Team
Once you’ve recruited your team and helped them understand your ministry goals, it’s up to you to ensure your team is equipped for success.
- Give People the Right Tools.
Whether through information or resources, I equip my team with tools to accomplish the goals I’ve defined. Find ways to present details without distracting from the goal. Share stories of connection and growing relationships as well as nuts-and-bolts details.
- Ask the Right Questions
The questions I ask can lead people toward a ministry goal or away from it, too. Here are questions you can ask to get more meaningful answers.
• Which activity do you think your kids connected with the most today? Why?
• What kinds of questions did your kids ask today—and how did they respond?
• Describe some of kids’ most meaningful prayer requests. What did those requests tell you about the kids?
5. Say Thanks!
Your team means a lot to you. And it’s not unusual to want to do something to express your gratitude. But if we’re speaking honestly, most Sunday school budgets won’t stretch far enough to express thankfulness in ways we’d like. Fortunately, the best ways to express gratefulness are often the easiest on the budget. A handwritten note with a specific word of thanks will go further to add value than any dollar amount on a gift card. When I affirm someone, my words take root in that person’s heart. Written words of encouragement are seeds that grow and lead to greater depth in your team.
This article was adapted from Sunday School That Works!