Quick tips to equip -- all you have to do is add
Instant messaging. Instant potatoes. Instant replays.
Since we live in an instant-everything culture, we're always on
the lookout for ways to save time. After all, if I can have my car
oil changed in 10 minutes, why can't I equip my volunteers with
ease and speed?
Volunteer training takes more than a quick fix, but there are
several quick things you can do to energize your children's
ministry volunteers. Check out these timesaving ideas to equip your
volunteers for the long run.
• Email Energy-Almost everyone has access to
email. So rather than holding another meeting, pass on training
tips by email. Build an address list so with one click of the
button you can send a note of encouragement, teacher-training
information, or program updates. Your volunteers can click Reply to
All to exchange comments with the entire email list.
• Tape-Talk-Instead of doing all your equipping
face to face, consider voice to ear. Record a monthly cassette or
CD on a training topic so your volunteers can train as they go.
That commute to work each morning or walk after dinner could double
as training time. And you don't have to invest in lengthy research
for your script. Simply share about a current article on child
development and then tell your response to it.
• Online Training-With the click of a button, you
can send out a virtual "class" and have your volunteers train at
home. Many colleges and training centers offer low-cost
distance-learning courses that would be beneficial for people who
minister to children (www.lifematters.com/online_classes.asp).
Some insurance companies offer classes on risk management and child
safety-most of which are free to policyholders (www.guideonecenter.com).
And Church Volunteer Central has 75 topical classes such as church
leadership, hospitality, and child development, in addition to
ministry specific courses (www.churchvolunteercentral.com).
Volunteers can train in the comfort of their homes.
• You've Got Mail-While email is the norm today,
it just doesn't have the same impact as good old-fashioned snail
mail. Send out "teacher tips" from your curriculum guides and other
educational sources with a handwritten sticky note of
encouragement. Sprinkle a little confetti in the envelope before
sealing for a festive delivery. Everyone loves to get a surprise in
• Holy Huddle-In football, the team huddles
before each play. Before your ministry action, gather your team
together for prayer, announcements, and a Bible verse for ministry
focus. The synergy of the team gives each person incredible
inspiration -- enough to handle a room full of toddlers.
• Just Ask-You don't have to plan an entire
training event to make people think. When Christine Yount Jones,
executive editor of this magazine, was in college, one of her
campus ministers, Carolyn Teague, was quite adept at asking just
the right question at the right time to get students thinking. It
was a very subtle and quick training tool.
• Pin Me-On any given Sunday at St. John's
Lutheran Church in Ellisville, Missouri, Michelle Thompson,
director of Next Generation Ministries, can be found "pinning" her
children's ministry volunteers. She randomly hands out a smiley
face button as she says, "Here's a smile for you for all the things
you do to make our kids smile!" Thompson says it equips volunteers
with motivation and confidence to start their day knowing they make
a difference in the lives of children.
• Mentor Magic-When the disciples asked Jesus how
to pray, he showed them how -- by praying. Match a new recruit with
an experienced volunteer to build a mentor relationship. Some of
your staff may have the wisdom and discernment that comes only from
experience. Make sure their knowledge and experience is passed on
to the rookies.
• Prescription: Subscription-Want a training tool
that'll last all year? Have ideas and resources home-delivered to
each volunteer with a Children's Ministry Magazine subscription!
You can get discounts for multiple subscriptions. Check it out at
Helping volunteers succeed in ministry demonstrates caring
leadership. Equipping volunteers doesn't have to drain your time
and energy. Sometimes the quick and simple ideas are the ones that
last a lifetime. cm
Bob D'Ambrosio is a consultant for Group's Church Volunteer