Most churches have a “darling” ministry, one where everyone wants to be a part. In many churches, that ministry is the worship team. Whether it’s joining the choir, singing in a small group, playing in the band…it seems we all want to be a part! How does this happen and why isn’t it this way in children’s ministry or youth ministry or your ministry?
What can ministry leaders learn from the worship team? In worship ministry teams…
- Volunteers know they have purpose. Whether singing, playing an instrument, or running tech, the volunteer’s talent is put to use in meaningful and specific ways.
- Volunteers know they are special. Not everyone can help in this ministry. It requires certain levels of talent. (I know this, because I’ve been told it every time I offer to sing!)
- Volunteers feel valued. Music ministries require commitment. Worship services can’t go on without specific people showing up to fulfill their commitments. Adults feel valued when they are treated like adults.
- Volunteers experience community. Choirs and bands alike require regular rehearsals. When we prepare for ministry together, we start developing friendships and support groups.
Let’s apply these principles in children’s ministry, youth ministry…all ministries! Instead of “dumbing down” our requests of volunteers, it’s time to expect more. Deeper commitments are made (and they last longer) when we challenge volunteers in the right ways, instead of coddling them out of desperation.
- Define very specific roles. Don’t ask a volunteer to do “everything” for the third graders. Ask a great storyteller to be “the” great storyteller for the whole department!
- Quit begging for staff. If “anyone” can do it, many competent, busy people would prefer that someone else do it! Youth and children’s ministries should be seen as high honors to which only some are called. High standards attract people with gifts and talents who will give more thought to their commitment.
- Be clear about expectations. Don’t be afraid to let your teachers know they are needed; it’s not okay for a volunteer to not show up or to not prepare properly. Like children, adults really do perform best when the bar is set high and they are encouraged (expected) to reach personal “bests.”
- Meet with and train volunteers. Training meetings sound old-fashioned, but back when we did such things, teachers lasted longer! Maybe there was something to it? The musicians meet every week to get better at what they do and to enjoy fellowship. Why can’t all ministry volunteers enjoy the same once a month?
(I currently have no internet access so have re-posted these tips from September 24, 2010. Hope you’re having a great summer!)