You Wanna Volunteer? Take a Number!


How do you show appreciation to your staff and volunteers?

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I publish the “Salt & Light Spotlight” in our quarterly
children’s ministry newsletter showing a key volunteer who’s doing
something effective but unnoticed during their weekly life.
Sometimes I know that an individual volunteer is hurting, so that
person is highlighted in our newsletter. We have an appreciation
banquet once a year. Twice a year we have a leadership retreat
where I take my team over a Friday night to Lake Geneva to build a
sense of team, have fun, and strategize the future of our ministry.
I have empowered (that is budgeted money for) my directors to take
their volunteers out to lunch if they need it. I would rather
encourage a leader with a lunch than buy a new puppet!

What do you say to a volunteer who comes to you and says, “Okay,
you’ve trained me, taken me out to lunch. I’ve been ‘pastoring’ for
a few years, but now I want to move on. I don’t feel like I’m being
fed, and I need to stop teaching and attend a Sunday school class
or worship with my orphaned spouse”?

Wow! That’s my job as their pastor to help keep them fed! I have
to come alongside them to help get them back on track. I may let
them go and replace them with someone who has completed Phase 1, or
I may try to get them into a small group. Whatever it is, I have to
listen to them and shepherd them back to good health. Once a month
we have Leader Fellowship where we talk turkey. I don’t call them
teacher training meetings, but that’s what they are. Everyone gets
informed as to what we’re doing, we all get to fellowship, eat some
good food, and spend time in prayer for our kids.

I once had a seminary professor tell me, “You cannot impart what
you do not possess!” How do you sharpen your saw to stay

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I attend the first service on Sunday with my family. I have a
personal growth plan with goals and objectives. I read a lot of
John Maxwell. In fact, I’m currently going through his tape series,
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. I spend time with my kids
and my family. I take my days off. I also spend time with my pastor
and try to connect with whatever energizes him. I don’t ever want
to let my ministry turn into a hobby where I have to go to the next
trade show for the next trick!

Who are your toughest people to recruit?

People with a lot of educational expertise, believe it or not.
Many times they can’t understand the heart aspects of a ministry to
kids. Also I’ve had trouble recruiting men into the ministry when
all they see is women in visible ministry positions. Two things
have helped me here. Men want to see organization-something that’ll
be easy for them to become a part of-not fix. Men also want to see
significance-they want a cool ministry that has very tangible
results. Another group that’s tough to recruit are people who’ve
been going to church way too long or who’ve already done their time
when they had kids.

What’s your toughest position to fill?

Our preteen ministry is a very unique age group. We don’t want to
be contemporary; we want to be relevant. Also our early childhood
division is a tough area to recruit in. It’s hard to get people who
know how to connect with these two age groups. Finally, our special
needs children are tough to recruit for. Typically their parents
aren’t a good source of ministry leadership because they want a
break from their daily tasks of training them.

Have you ever turned anyone down?

Oh, yes, regularly! Out of a class of 20, three or five will not
make the cut.


They’re people with lots of hurts. They’re people who have past
church experiences that’ve burned them out. They’re church hopping
and want a new thing. Or they’re the type of people who say
indirectly, “I can’t be loved by adults; kids will love me!” Our
screening process detects all sorts of motives; and a person’s
motives are a big part of the evaluation when we place our

Have you ever had to “fire” a leader?

Yes, though not very often. Usually the reason is that there’s
something going on at home that they need to focus on. They’re
getting a divorce, or maybe they’re just spending too much time at
church to avoid their responsibilities at home. They have an
inappropriate relationship with their spouse, or they have some
life habits that are contrary to the standards set in

What recruiting advice would you give someone who’s just starting
out in ministry?

Understand the difference between recruiting and calling. There
are people called to be with kids; that’s a summons from God. Be
open to that calling in people; don’t just go after warm bodies.
Also start communicating your passion and vision to the whole body.
Finally, put together a Parent Resource Guide immediately so the
congregation knows what you’re about.


Lenny La Guardia has developed a typical working plan for a good
week that builds and adds to the previous day. His staff tries to
follow this to balance good shepherding with good

Monday: Process Day Administration and evaluation of Sunday

Tuesday: People Day Recruiting, contact- ing, meeting

Wednesday: Program Day What can we do to do it better?
Implementing changes to program

Thursday: Parental Day What messages do we want to communicate to
the congregation?

Friday: Pastoral Day Meeting the needs of the people

To contact Lenny La Guardia, write him at First Assembly of God,
5950 Spring Creek Road, Rockford, IL 61114. Call (815) 877-8000,
Ext. 211, or email him at cm

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