Challenging Your Volunteers

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11 ways to recharge your volunteers’ faith

Who is your primary ministry to — children or volunteers? If
you truly want to multiply your ministry, you answered volunteers.
Just as Jesus’ investment in the 12 disciples resulted in future
generations of disciples, your investment in your volunteers will
ensure that life-changing ministry continues to occur with
children.

If your answer to my question was children, you need to change
your paradigm. Not changing your paradigm means you won’t have the
commitment it takes to challenge your volunteers spiritually. The
suggestions in this article require commitment. They also require
time and energy, but if you’re willing to disciple and mentor
volunteers, you’ll find the time and energy. Use these 11 ideas to
challenge your volunteers to grow spiritually.

1. Measure volunteers’ faith ahead of time.
It’s difficult to challenge volunteers to grow spiritually if
there’s no faith to start with. One volunteer in a church taught
the children about a “dream catcher” that would take away all their
bad dreams. After further investigation, the children’s ministry
director discovered that this volunteer didn’t even believe in
Christ. Make sure you know what people believe before they work
with children.

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2. Disciple teachers. Train your teachers to
teach as Jesus taught. Rather than merely exposing your teachers to
the latest educational theories, help them see that they’re walking
in Jesus’ footsteps when they teach children. Jesus asked
questions, used real-life objects to teach, encouraged his
disciples to work together, and much more. As teachers are
challenged to model their ministry after Christ, they’ll grow to be
more like him.

3. Be a role model. What kind of spiritual
maturity do you display? Do you act out of a vital relationship
with God? Is prayer an afterthought or an important element in your
life? How often do you pray with your volunteers? Do you ever share
with them a spiritually enriching moment you’ve had lately? Your
example of faith and trust in God may be your most powerful
message.

4. Pray with your volunteers. Start training
meetings with prayer and end with small group prayer-and-share
time. Call volunteers to ask them what you can be praying for them
in their personal lives and ministries. Have teachers arrive 15
minutes before class so you can meet as a group and ask God for his
blessing on them and their classes.

5. Show your volunteers how to have a quiet
time.
Encourage volunteers to spend daily time in prayer
and God’s Word. Use a teacher-training meeting to teach this
discipline. Or meet with a different volunteer each week for
breakfast and a brief quiet time.

Helpful booklets to share with your volunteers are 7 Minutes
With God
(NavPress) and Quiet Time (InterVarsity
Press).

6. Affirm spiritual growth. Look for ways God
works through volunteers. When you hear about a child who’s grasped
a concept for the first time or comments on something a teacher has
taught him, pass that good news on to the teacher. Preface your
report with something such as “God used you in Blair’s life this
week.” There’s nothing more exciting for a volunteer than to be
used by God in the lives of children.

7. Value spiritual maturity. Your volunteers
will learn to value what you value. If you affirm them for how
pretty they look each week, their clothes will become important.
But if you affirm them for godly qualities, they’ll dress inwardly
first. For example, you can affirm volunteers for their commitment
to Christ during a trying time, faith in a difficult child, or
humility when confronted by an angry parent. Point out how these
things show that they’re growing in the image of Christ.

8. Hold volunteers accountable. Assume nothing.
Let your volunteers know that you care about their spiritual
well-being and that you are a fellow traveler on this faith
journey. Encourage them to ask you how things are going
spiritually, and do the same for them. Don’t forget to also ask
about other areas of their lives if you want them to feel that you
genuinely care for them.

Or establish partners who’ll keep each other
accountable.
Volunteers can meet with or call each other
regularly to share concerns, pray, and encourage each other with
Scripture.

9. Give short-term commitments. When volunteers
sign up to teach, offer them a defined term such as three, nine, or
12 months. Say, “The ministry to the children is a very vital part
of the overall ministry of this church. Therefore, we want our
teachers to be the best they can be. Because each of us needs to be
taught, we want you to teach for a while and then go back to the
worship service and an adult Sunday
school class.”

10. Pass on sermon tapes. If your volunteers
teach during the worship service and don’t hear the sermon, mail
them each a tape of the sermon on Monday morning. Call them on
Thursday to discuss the sermon.

11. Plan an “R and R: Recharge and Renewal
Retreat.”
Take your volunteers away at the church’s
expense. Plan activities that focus on recreation, reading the
Word, and rest. Encourage volunteers to play and enjoy yummy
refreshments throughout the weekend. End your time with a worship
service.

Jody Capehart is an author, speaker, and consultant in
Texas.


TALK TRIGGERS

Use these talk triggers to get volunteers talking in training
meetings or simply use them to talk to volunteers individually.

  1. Tell me about a Sunday school teacher who made a big impact on
    your life.
  2. What’s one thing the children in our church have taught you
    this year?
  3. How has God caused you to grow as you’ve volunteered in our
    program?
  4. How have you sensed Jesus’ presence in your classroom?
  5. What difference do you feel your ministry has made in the life
    of one child?
  6. What answers to prayer have you seen in your ministry?
  7. Which of Jesus’ methods of teaching are you most skilled
    at?

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