Losing Your Volunteers? Ever Ask Why?

5 Reasons Ministry Volunteers Quit

By Mimi Bullock

Volunteers are needed! How many times have we seen this sign or posted it ourselves? Too many! We lose good volunteers and sadly ministry helpers do come and go. Sometimes the volunteers quit for reasons we could have prevented. While that is not always the case, leaders should know the five reasons why this most commonly occurs. Retain one of the most important elements of your ministry, the volunteers, and build a stronger team and reach all the children in your community.

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Why Kids?

Why serve in children’s ministry?  Here are a few reasons from Karl Bastian at Kidology:

1. Children are the ripest spiritual field in the Kingdom. This was God’s design. Even adults, Jesus said, ought to “come as children.” It was God’s plan that faith begin as a child. When it doesn’t, there is always a high price to pay.

2. The ripest field is being harvested by the least equipped and trained. While there is a growing number of professionally trained children’s ministry leaders, the VAST majority of those who minister to children are parents and volunteers thrust into that role with little or no training and with meager resources.

3. The Internet is the most strategic and cost-effective way to bridge this gap. We can impact an unlimited number of those who reach and teach children 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And we are!

4. Because Jesus Loves Children and those on the front lines reaching them.

Six Reasons to Serve!

6 Reasons To Serve in Children’s Ministry 

By Tony Kummer

If people really understood the spiritual blessings of serving God’s kids, we would have to start a volunteer waiting list. Children’s Ministry is one of the most important things your church will ever do. Here’s why:

6 Reasons Why You Should Serve in Children’s Ministry.

10+ Tips for Dealing with “Dead Wood” in Kid Min

If you’ve been in Kid Min for any length of time, you’ve probably seen it: “dead wood.”  I’m not referring to downed spruce trees or bundles of dry branches, but to the “pesky few” who routinely “trip up” your mission, objective, and effectiveness in reaching and teaching kids for Christ.  They’re routinely ineffective,  poorly prepared, marginally relevant, refuse to change, shift, adjust or update,  and emit all the warmth of a polar bear convention stuck in an igloo during an Arctic blizzard.

“Mildred”

Take Mildred.  She’s been teaching third and fourth grade SS  since just after the discovery of fire.  She’s not about to give up up her Mayflower-vintage “teaching” techniques, curricula, attitudes or approaches for some new-fangled paradigm or “radical” modern stuff, no siree, Bob! “But we’ve always done it this way” is her favorite refrain, and the bored-out-of-their-gourds kids in her class aren’t exactly tapping their toes in time.

“Joe”

Joe rushes into his class well after the kids arrive each week, dropping papers and splashing coffee on the table.  His idea of “lesson prep” is reviewing the weekly lesson five minutes before class starts instead of three.  Joe looks like an unmade bed and couldn’t “teach” his way out of a paper bag if the instructions were printed on the reverse side.  When you suggest he might consider “other avenues and opportunities that may be better suited to your special gifts and skills,” and offer additional training and helps, Joe shrugs it off, claiming teaching kids “is my ministry” and that “the Holy Spirit is my guide” and therefore he doesn’t need any help.

“Penny”

Your fifth grade children’s church teacher, Penny, “has other plans” half the time and calls in as “unavailable” because “something came up” most of the rest.  The kids see subs more often than they see the “teacher” who’s on the schedule.  You’ve asked if Penny would like a break, maybe she’s burnt out or over-committed?  She doesn’t return phone calls, reply to email or attend your monthly teacher meetings.  But she adamantly refuses your offer to replace her.

You don’t want to offend anyone.  You certainly don’t want to create a “tempest in a teapot.”  You could ignore the issues, hoping they just magically disappear or take care of themselves. But that’s unlikely.  And children’s ministries is suffering in the meantime.  So, what do you do?

Tip #1: Tread lightly.

Tip #2: Bathe everything and everyone in prayer.  Also consider:

It’s probably safe to say that most Children’s Pastors strive to ensure individual and team success in kid min.  However, when someone is unable or unwilling to meet the obligations related to their commitment, you need a Policy for Unmet Expectations, and everyone needs to be aware of it up-front.  Whether you come up with your policy yourself, in conjunction with a ministry committee, input from other seasoned kid min veterans, your leadership team or whatever, the goal of such a “policy” is to be specific and firm, but gracious.  It should be based on the Matthew 18 model.  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Pray before doing or saying anything.
  2. Treat people with respect and sensitivity.  They are your most valuable assets.
  3. If problems arises, use a verbal reminder regarding expectations.  State the problem clearly.  Solicit honest feedback.
  4. Inquire about latent causes of an inability to meet expectations (illness, injury, work schedule, family issues, overslept, etc.).  Don’t assume.  Don’t jump to conclusions.  Get the full story directly from the source.  ASK.  Then listen.
  5. If problems persist and do not involve a safety issue, send two written reminders regarding expectations and whatever else is appropriate, two weeks apart, usually by email.  (If a safety issue involved, IMMEDIATE action is required.)
  6. Offer support.  Ask: “What do you need to be successful in this area?  How can I help?  What can I pray about?”
  7. If a ministry worker is repeatedly unresponsive, suggest they “step aside” for a season, such as taking the summer off.
  8. If the worker does not step aside voluntarily, you plus a deacon or other designee (1 + witness) urge stepping aside.  This should be done face-to-face, and in a spirit of gentleness.
  9. If the problem persists, determine the necessity of worker removal with your leadership for a reasonable amount of time (two weeks – one month or longer as deemed appropriate and necessary).
  10. Worker permitted to resume commitment if problem is adequately addressed.  (This requires effective follow-up.)  If the problem/issue persists, remove the worker for the rest of the teaching term.  They may return to service at your discretion the following term if sufficient amelioration  is evident and progress is being made.

The goal of this process should be to improve, enhance and support, not to browbeat or “power-trip.”  Be sure to maintain appropriate documentation, and trust God to work in you and your worker to turn “dead wood” into something new, fresh, and vibrant!

Church Social Media Bad Practices

Churches are all over social media, which is a good thing. But are they doing social media right? That’s another question altogether. In many cases, sadly, the answer is “no.” Churches plus social media has often gone woefully awry. In an effort to prevent your church from careening over the precipice of a social media bad practice, we’re going to tell you what those bad practices are… It’s up to you to avoid them.

Click here to continue reading Church Social Media Bad Practices – from ShareFaith.

‘Unboxing’ Gospel Light’s VBS Themes 2011

From Tony Kummer at Ministry to Children:

What’s going on?

“We got tired of wasting our time,” Billie sighed as she tucked an errant wisp of auburn hair behind her ear.  “Having our names in neon wasn’t important to us,” added her husband, Maury.  “Developing a vibrant, dynamic, pedal-to-the-metal children’s ministries and raising the next generation of spiritual champions was.”  Lean and lanky, Maury paused as his blue eyes snapped.  “We were asked to step in and run children’s ministries when it was a disaster area.  We assessed the situation, surveyed the damage and tried to do what church leadership said it wanted.  But every time we tried anything fresh, innovative or different, the pastor and the board blocked us.”

“It was like they were talking out of both sides of their mouth,” nodded Billie.  “We never knew which way to jump.”

After a few years, Maury and Billie stopped trying and chose to take their considerable gifts and talents elsewhere.

Ministry success – a threat?

“The senior pastor was a great guy,” Johnny, a former children’s pastor, observed.  “I liked him personally.  But every time kid min made some progress, started gaining traction and surging forward in terms of numbers, enthusiasm, energy, and responsiveness – he’d get intimidated.”  The thirty-something seminary grad with more than a dozen years of children’s ministries leadership experience eventually resigned his position at a large suburban church.  “It was like he saw my ministry success as a threat,” Johnny sighed.  Johnny now teaches fourth and fifth graders at a Christian school.  Kids, parents and administrators love Johnny – and he’s having a blast.

It wasn’t working

“What they’d been doing clearly wasn’t working” explained Carla, a seasoned children’s ministries leader.  The data were abundant – and grim.  Plummeting attendance.  Apathy.  Bickering.  Departing families.  Folding programs.  The children ministries budget was a permanent basement dweller.   Carla tried tactfully alerting a “blissfully oblivious” church leadership that unless something changed fast regarding their view of ministry to children and the church placed a higher priority on kids, it would likely close its doors in the next ten to fifteen years.

The round file

When asked to address the situation, Carla drafted a strategic plan that integrated children into every avenue of church life and placed them as a higher institutional priority.  “The pastor tossed it in his round file.”

The main “issue” surrounded the strategic plan wasn’t whether or not it was on target, or even if it would “work.”  It was the pastor’s ego.  He took it as a personal affront that someone had the audacity to draft ideas or goals other than him.  “The atmosphere was stifling and suffocating,” Carla explained.  She left, too.

“Our committee would meet, set goals, work through an agenda, discuss, decide, and keep the appropriate people informed,” said Mike and Linda.  “Then somewhere down the road the pastor and the board would cut us off at the knees, countermanding or changing everything we were working on.  Not just occasionally, but all the time.”

The tail wagging the dog?

“It was like the tail wagging the dog,” Mike rocked back on his heels.  Linda elaborated, “Children’s ministries was never considered ‘important enough’ to be invited to board meetings. So the board met without any representative from children’s ministries.  They never asked for our input, never engaged the kids personally, never knew what was going on in kid min, but made unilateral decisions affecting kid min.”

Mike chuckled, shaking his head, “Decisions?  Is that what they were?  They always sounded like royal edicts to me.”  Linda jabbed him with an elbow, grinning.  “We were not only excluded from the decision-making process about our area of ministry responsibility, we weren’t even part of the discussion.  Then they’d act surprised when we’d say, ‘Uh…. Excuse us?  Why are we here?’”

“The board wanted to run the show in a vacuum,” Linda chimed in, “so we let ‘em.” Seasoned ministry veterans, this husband-wife team now serve as executive directors for a thriving national youth ministry.

Common thread

The common thread in the above stories?  Dedicated children’s ministry professionals who are stymied, stifled and suffocated out the door by overbearing, unsupportive, unresponsive or insecure church leadership.

What’s going on?

Sound familiar?  What’s going on here?

Is a flourishing children’s ministry that “threatening”?  How come some church leaders “get” kid min and others are clueless?  How come some approach ministry holistically, as a team, while others are busy building (or protecting) their own personal fiefdoms?   How do you tell the difference – before hitting that proverbial “brick wall”?  When?  Who?  How?  If you’re part of a ministry “team” that’s crumbling or dysfunctional – what are your options? Are there times when it’s best to call “the horse dead” and move on?  When?