In defense of the church, it must be said that many ministries have hurdles that other volunteer organizations don’t have. Circumstances in our church world can make it tougher to find volunteers, especially those who work with children. Consider this sampling of obstacles.
- High-Needs Kids — Potential children’s ministry volunteers may feel insecure about or unequipped to minister to the rising numbers of children with special needs, whether those needs are perceived or real. The idea of working with children with autism or learning disabilities may discourage people who feel intimidated by what they perceive as greater or specialized demands. Similarly, the headline-making statistics on bullying and behavior problems can be off-putting for people who don’t feel prepared to deal with discipline issues on a broader level.
- Background Checks — Most churches require background checks for anyone working with children — and they should. Most people don’t have a problem undergoing a background check, but some feel offended that they’re expected to do so. And background checks require time and money (sometimes the potential volunteer’s), which may feel too intrusive or like too much of a hassle to potential volunteers.
- Competition — Because volunteering is so widespread, people have an array of choices. Sometimes the competition happens within the same church as staff compete for a potential volunteer’s time and talent.
The Good News In researching our book The New Breed: Understanding and Equipping the 21st Century Volunteer, my son Jonathan McKee and I uncovered several common mistakes that ministries make. The good news? We also found solutions that healthy churches use not only to correct these mistakes, but also to take advantage of the current tide of volunteer enthusiasm. Here are those mistakes — and solutions you can implement today in your own search for volunteers.