There’s a big volunteer debate in children’s ministry. Should you require full-time teachers or recruit an arsenal of part-time teachers? Here are two perspectives.
Full-Time Position Desired
Gung-ho gifted children’s teacher desires a place to plugin; willing to give 110% in ministry to kids. Full-time, energized-for-the-cause-of-Christ teachers are in the classroom every week to minister to children. Full-time teachers are the only way to go!
Children, families, teachers, and the future all benefit from full-time teachers.
Connecting children with the same teacher each week is important to relationship-building.
Some of our children aren’t able to attend church regularly. As often as children are able to attend, they need to see the same caring leader who’s consistently there for them. No matter what a child’s schedule is, he’ll know that an enthusiastic, full-time teacher is waiting at church to be with him and guide him as his committed faith mentor.
Families benefit from full-time teachers.
Families hunger for help, support, direction, and commitment from their community of believers. Full-time teachers are able to extend their ministry beyond simply delivering a lesson. A full-time teacher works in partnership with families to raise up children who know Jesus.
Teachers also glean benefits from a full-time commitment.
A full-time commitment to teaching creates unique and incredible bonds between children and their teachers. The teachers reap joy, satisfaction, and miracles beyond words.
Last, Christ does through full-time teachers impacts the future in a wonderful way.
Our children need examples of people who are wholehearted in their service to God-not examples of people who only show up when it’s convenient. The future of the church is tenuous if children never see adults who’ve made a costly commitment to Christ.
How to Recruit Full Time Teachers
Don’t ask people who are stretched thin.
Don’t put people who are overbooked and stretched to the max in leadership with children. Avoid those who say “Oh, well, yeah, I guess so if you really need me. I’m so busy but I’ll squeeze it in.” No! We need people who are ready to jump out of their skin with excitement to teach children about God.
Kids need teachers who cherish their ministry and the gifts they’ve been blessed with.
They’re motivated to teach children about Christ with their whole being. Children need full-time teachers who strive to understand the children they teach-their world, lives, moods, highs, and lows. Full-time teachers intimately know how their kids most effectively learn, who they are, and what makes them tick.
Approach with Expectation
Have an attitude of expectation-that in asking for a full-time commitment from your teachers, God will bring those who’ll say yes. When I’ve stressed the importance of full-time teachers at our church-time and time again-teachers have thanked me for taking a stand. They’ve seen the notable difference of rich relationships with children and an improvement in their teaching.
Childhood is a vital time of learning, and part-time teachers just can’t capitalize on these key years of spiritual development. Jesus said to us, “Lo, I am with you always.” Let’s say to our children, “Hey kids, I’ve made a full-time commitment to teach, care, mentor, lead, and be here for you always.” When that full-time teacher lives that labor of love and gives passionately to those children, kids’ lives are changed.
Susan Lennartson is a children’s ministry consultant in Stillwater, Minnesota.
Part-Time Position Desired
Creative, busy father wants to serve in children’s ministry; team player; desires to develop teaching skills.
Children’s ministry is extremely demanding and exhausting. To have a cutting edge ministry, you need to have high energy, lots of variety, interactive lessons, and a program that not only challenges children to know God but also meets children’s emotional needs. In our busy culture where the average home has two working parents who are usually controlled by calendars, most people can’t keep up the pace.
Part-time volunteers avoid burnout.
Before we started using part-time teachers, we’d often recruit a teacher, and that person would last for a year or possibly two. It would take a long time, if ever, before that burned-out person would be willing to participate in the ministry again. That’s why”part-time” teaching-a co-teaching situation that’s shared by two or more teachers-is the only way to accomplish quality children’s ministry and meet the teachers’ needs for spiritual development. Recruiting part-time teachers allows us to work within busy adults time limitations.
By having rotating part-time teachers, our volunteers can attend some adult services and receive ministry. Time off gives them time to come up with creative ideas. We find that by the end of teachers’ downtime, they’re fresh, bursting with ideas, and full of energy. The children enjoy the variety of lessons and interaction with many adults-rather than just one.
Create a cycle of volunteers.
At our church, our children’s ministry is dependent on part-time teachers. During the school year, two teachers teach each class. That way each teacher prepares a lesson every other week. In our midweek program, teachers commit to one quarter at a time. Two or three teachers share the teaching responsibilities over a year. In the summer, our teenagers form teams and teach on a weekly rotation. What a great opportunity to encourage teenagers involved with children’s ministry!
We have four teams that teach children’s church during the year. Our quarterly rotation requires each team to spend one month preparing for children’s church. The team teaches the next month. Then they have two months off. With this plan, each team gets plenty of time to create great quality lessons that are full of active learning, drama, puppets, and music. By ministering three times a year, our volunteers have plenty of time for their spiritual development.
Part-time volunteers are easier to recruit.
Our model of children’s ministry has made recruiting teachers much easier. People feel that signing up for children’s ministry isn’t a life sentence because anyone can give a month or a quarter for team teaching. As a result, we have over 46 people working on our children’s staff. By teaching on a rotation, our children’s staff has the opportunity to be involved in other areas of the church. People who normally wouldn’t volunteer to work with the children are more willing to try it for a short time. Of course, once they experience the joy of children’s ministry, the majority of these people volunteer again. We deepen teachers’ faith through service and create more support throughout the church family.
Part-time teachers improve our ministry.
The most exciting element of using part-time teachers is the quality of ministry our children are receiving. Because of the time that the teachers have to dedicate to lesson preparation, children have original and creative lessons. From the variety of teaching styles, the children are much more receptive to our ministry. A full-time teacher could never keep up with a team of rotating teachers. Whether you’re in a small or large church, children’s ministry has the same needs and demands. This model will meet your needs and give you exciting fruit.
Daniel Nagele is a children’s pastor in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
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