Use this emoji volunteer training event to get your ministry volunteers pumped for a new year of shining Jesus’ love on kids.
As a children’s minister, you’ve likely invited people to serve with you and you’ve come face to face with a variety of reactions, such as “Who, me?” “I’d love to!” “Do I have to change diapers?” and “Let me think about it.” Despite the mix of reactions, many people joined your team of volunteers. So now’s the time to equip, excite, and enamor them with Jesus’ love for the little children.
A cohesive, well-planned training communicates love and appreciation far louder than any words you say. Whether you stick with the basics, take it to the next level, or go above and beyond, these ideas will get your annual volunteer training off the ground.
Emoji Volunteer Training Event: Show It With Decor
Tell your team “We’re glad you’re here!” and “Let’s have fun!” without saying a word.
- plastic yellow tablecloths,
- permanent markers
Cover your tables with plastic yellow tablecloths. Use permanent markers to draw emoji faces directly on the tablecloths. Greet your guests with smiling tables!
- white or black plastic tablecloths,
- yellow balloons,
- small water bottles,
- chenille wires,
- red and black permanent markers
Cover your tables with tablecloths, and then add a pop of personality with yellow emoji centerpieces. Transform inflated balloons into emojis by drawing faces with permanent markers. Visit emojipedia.com for the most popular emojis and descriptions.
Remove labels from small water bottles. Pull the end of a tied balloon over the top of a bottle with the lid in place. Then secure the balloon to the bottle by wrapping a chenille wire around the knot in the balloon.
Above and Beyond
Branch out beyond smiley faces and draw emojis that represent a range of emotions. Options include: excited, tired, worried, apathetic, love, and cool. When team members arrive, invite them to sit at a table that best represents their feelings today or over the past week. Begin your time together by inviting members to briefly share with their tablemates why they selected that spot. Your team members will naturally have something to talk about just by finding a seat.
Emoji Volunteer Training Event: Show It With Food
Invite volunteers to eat their emotions…literally! Tell your team “We care!” without saying a word. This emoji-themed breakfast bar will say it for you.
- yellow cups,
- disposable coffee cups,
- small plastic food-safe containers,
- permanent markers
Give your paper products some personality! Serve beverages with a smile by drawing happy faces on yellow cups and sleepy faces on coffee cups. Create lovely fruit cups by drawing smiles and heart-shaped eyes on shallow plastic cups.
- fruit with a peel,
- black markers
In addition to the decorated cups, create emojis out of bananas, oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, and other fruit with a peel. Draw unique faces on the unpeeled fruit.
Above and Beyond
- pancake batter,
- toppings (see below)
Flip-up a batch of pancakes for your team. Invite guests to use the following toppings and treats to make faces for their pancakes.
- Simply slicing down the middle of a strawberry makes a heart.
- Line up blueberries to create a smile.
- Chocolate chips make perfect eyes, mouths, and eyebrows.
- Whipped cream makes for great toothy smiles.
Display a variety of emoji faces in your serving area as inspiration.
Emoji Volunteer Training Event: Show It With a Photo Op
Set up an emoji-themed photo booth. Silly, hilarious, and ridiculous expressions are welcome! Snap photos and have a blast.
- emoji props (available at amazon.com)
Purchase or make your own emoji props. Invite your team members to strike a pose with sunglasses, hearts, tears of joy, emoji photo prop sticks, or a “thumbs up”! Look for props at your local party store or online.
- solid-colored paper plates (including yellow),
- permanent markers,
- construction paper,
- tape, scissors,
- optional “Emoji Template”
Highlight team members’ real expressions with an emoji background for your photo booth. Use permanent markers or cut out facial features from construction paper to design a variety of happy faces on yellow plates only, and then attach them to a wall. Make the background big enough for several people to pose in front of it. We recommend at least five plates across and five plates down.
Above and Beyond
Use the props and background ideas above, but take pictures of each team of volunteers so you can share them with your entire church family. Invite volunteers of each age group to gather together for a picture. Take a silly photo and one where all team members’ faces are clearly visible. Print the photos, and post them on the volunteers’ doors or on a “Meet Our Leaders” bulletin board. You can even post pictures on your church’s social media page along with fun facts about each team member. It’s a great way for families to identify and “meet” their child’s volunteers and teachers before the new ministry year begins.
Warning! Not all emojis are created equal…or free.
Many popular emojis are copyrighted, so check and confirm you have permission before printing or projecting faces for your training. Emojione.com provides free downloadable options, or check out our free emoji template.
Emoji Volunteer Training Event: Tell With an Icebreaker
A team-building game is a great way to get volunteers engaged in your training.
- one copy of the “Faces in Children’s Ministry” per person
- large sheet of paper,
Flash a big smile.
Say: Faces tell you something.
Tell about a time you used an emoji. Explain the reasons you might choose to communicate with a face instead of words. Then have volunteers talk about times they used an emoji to communicate.
Say: Sometimes words fall short, but faces always tell something. Give each person a set of printed emoji faces.
Say: Without saying a word, respond to these statements by holding up a face.
- How did you feel…
- …when you joined our team?
- …after the first time you served?
- …when a preschooler found the permanent markers?
- …when a child in your ministry followed Jesus for the first time?
Say: Your faces told me something. You communicated your thoughts, preferences, and a little bit of your history without saying a word.
- Talk to a partner about which emoji best describes how you felt when you were asked to serve in children’s ministry this year.
- Why did you feel this way?
Say: Perhaps you had mixed feelings, but one thing is for certain: Here’s how we feel about you. Draw a large grinning face with heart eyes on the large sheet of paper.
Say: You make a difference. You give your time, energy, and heart to kids so they can meet and form a friendship with Jesus. Thank you for showing up when you feel happy, when you’re tired, and when you’ve had a tough week at work. You’re welcoming kids just like Jesus did.
Now’s the time to transition into nitty-gritty training topics and logistics. Check out “Training 101” below for a list of training topics you might cover.
It’s easy to assume that volunteers know your policies and procedures, especially if they’ve served before. But briefly covering these topics and answering the questions that accompany them will refresh memories, set expectations, and get your new team members off to a good start.
- Curriculum What do you use, and why? How will you deliver lessons to volunteers? What preparation do you expect?
- Safety and Security What are the must-know specifics about your process?
- Emergency Procedures What’s the plan? Where are the exits?
- Behavior How can teachers come alongside kids who are struggling? What are some tips for redirecting kids?
- Family Connections What resources do you provide for parents? How can your volunteer team support family initiatives?
- Age-Level Specifics What unique things do nursery workers need to know? What cleaning routines happen in preschool rooms?
- Snacks How will volunteers know if kids have allergies? What snacks do you recommend or discourage?
Tell It in Prayer
To close your training, affirm and encourage volunteers with this emoji prayer.
- copies of the “Faces in Children’s Ministry” handout,
- large sheets of paper,
Invite volunteers to look at the six emoji faces.
Say: God hears our hearts and sees our faces. He’ll give us what we need to serve and love kids.
Encourage people to set their emoji cards in front of them and hold up an emoji card when you stop for them to respond.
Pray: God, thank you that you see our faces and that you meet us where we are. (pause)
Thank you that you equip us to see the faces of children you’ve brought into our lives. (pause)
Help us love the children and lead them to you. (pause)
Encourage your team members to tuck the emojis into their Bibles or somewhere else as a reminder and encouragement.
Close by saying: I can’t say it enough. Here’s how I feel about you.
Draw a happy face. I’m happy you’re on the team.
Draw a loving face. I love that you’re willing to lead kids.
Draw a winking tongue face. Let’s have some fun together
Charity Kauffman is a managing editor in Group’s children’s ministry department and a former children’s ministry director.
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