Uncovering the Secrets to Managing Your Children’s Ministry Volunteer Team
If your ministry volunteer staff seems like a group of misfits, take another look at their personalities.
Six months ago, Holly asked Carol how she could help with the children’s ministry. Holly’s genuine enthusiasm about the children lifted Carol’s spirits. The most urgent need was to keep the supply closet stocked and manage the attendance rosters. Willing to help in any way she could, Holly eagerly accepted the assignment.
But now her enthusiasm has waned. She still loves the children, but she wants to quit helping with the children’s ministry.
What went wrong?
Carol actually helped cause Holly’s failure because she didn’t match Holly’s personality to the appropriate job task. Holly was a battery-powered microphone doing a pegboard’s job.
If you’re experiencing high volunteer turnover or frustration in your ministry, you may also have ministry “misfits.” Here’s what you can do about it.
1. Know Your Volunteers
Observe your volunteers to figure out the two most important personality traits: extroversion vs. introversion and people-focus vs. task-focus.
To determine if someone is an extrovert or an introvert, consider: Does the person gravitate toward doing things with many people, or alone or with one or two others? For example, is the person more likely to volunteer to lead a drama team (extrovert) or to help prepare the props and costumes or write the script (introvert)?
To determine if someone is more people-focused or more task-focused, consider: Is the person more naturally concerned about people or about details of a task? For example, would the person be more effective at motivating others to get excited about the upcoming VBS plan (people-focused) or helping to create the plan (task-focused)?
If you can’t figure people out, just ask.
2. Custom-Fit Volunteers to Tasks
Once you’ve figured out your volunteers’ personality types, you can fit them into one of the following categories:
- Toy Soldier
- Battery-Powered Microphone
- Teddy Bear
Then match your volunteers to tasks. If you do, your volunteers will have the duties they’ll enjoy most and be the best at executing.
Toy Soldier (Extrovert, Task-Focused)
- Role: Toy soldiers focus well on the big picture of what’s going on. They’ll help make things happen and solve problems.
- Most fulfilling tasks: Toy soldiers are comfortable with leadership and enjoy a sense of control. Invite them to organize activities and parties, organize and run fund-raisers, oversee a special project or team, serve on a task force to determine ministry goals, or drive the church bus.
- Needs from others: Toy soldiers need pegboards to watch out for the details. They need battery-powered microphones and teddy bears to help children feel welcome and loved.
- Meaningful affirmations: Show support by offering to help execute their plans. Invite a toy soldier to lunch to discuss the overview of the children’s ministry at your church.
- Effective “corrections”: “You can help us better meet our goal if you would change the way you…” “We need you to use your leadership skills to help turn this around…”
- How to recruit/motivate: “You can help us with our ministry goals.”
Pegboard (Introvert, Task-Focused)
- Role: Pegboards are masters of detail. They’ll help establish standards and systems, such as sign-up sheets for refreshments.
- Most fulfilling tasks: Pegboards enjoy a controlled environment, and they appreciate knowing precisely what’s expected of them. Invite them to keep supplies stocked, set up meetings, run errands, do computer or administrative tasks, or arrange for refreshments.
- Needs from others: Pegboards need toy soldiers to help them know when to stop being so detail-minded and forge ahead with a project or decision. They also need battery-powered microphones and teddy bears to help children feel welcome and loved.
- Meaningful affirmations: Tell pegboards when you pray for them. Thank them for taking care of the ministry details.
- Effective “corrections”: “You are so good at taking care of the details, would you help change the way we…” “I know you’ve put a lot of careful planning into this; you’re the best person to help us find a new way to…”
- How to recruit/motivate: “You can help us get organized to be more effective.”
Battery-Powered Microphone (Extrovert, People-Focused)
- Role: Battery-powered microphones love being with lots of other people. They’ll make children feel welcome.
- Most fulfilling tasks: Battery-powered microphones enjoy being “up front” and are good at motivating other people. Invite them to lead music, lead drama teams, lead a puppet ministry, help with sports activities, teach Sunday school and children’s church, or run special programs such as sidewalk Sunday school or vacation Bible school.
- Needs from others: Battery-powered microphones need the toy soldiers and pegboards to help make the task or event happen as planned. They need the teddy bears to individually follow through with children.
- Meaningful affirmations: Tell your battery-powered microphones what a great job they do. Secretly have children draw pictures for them and add a thank-you note.
- Effective “corrections”: “Parents and children would love it if you would change the way you…” “The other teachers would be so grateful if you…”
- How to recruit/motivate: “You can help children get excited about what’s happening here!”
Teddy Bear (Introvert, People-Focused)
- Role: Teddy bears excel in one-to-one relationships with people. They’ll help children know they’re loved because they care and listen so well.
- Most fulfilling tasks: Teddy bears enjoy predictable patterns to what they do, and they’re good at specializing in tasks they do repeatedly. Invite teddy bears to teach Sunday school and children’s church, lead a weekday club, work on Sunday school crafts with the children, telephone and visit families, or serve as chaperones.
- Needs from others: Teddy bears need the toy soldiers and pegboards to help with last-minute changes in plans or events. They need the battery-powered microphones to generate enthusiasm.
- Meaningful affirmations: Give your teddy bears tokens of appreciation such as a flower or a note. Smile at them, add a pat on the back or a hug and tell them how kids know they care about them.
- Effective “corrections”: “We really appreciate the work you’ve been doing with the children, and we think it could be even better if you…” “Parents are happy with how well you relate to their children, and they’ve mentioned that they wish you would…”
- How to recruit/motivate: “You can help the children know Jesus loves them.”
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