Do you enjoy rejection? Do you like it when people duck their heads to escape your gaze when they think you are “after them?” Do you relish the thought of getting dozens of “no’s” only to see some of the same overworked members step up to the plate? Well, welcome to the world of recruiting volunteers! Do I paint too grim of a picture? Is the recruiting process intended to make us frustrated with the members of our church? May it never be! The truth is that we need many laborers in children’s ministry, and we are to trust God to call them and to bring them our way. So, let’s move on in to this vital subject in our Children’s Ministry 101 series…
Lesson Six: Recruit the Laborers
One of the regular responsibilities of your the Children’s Ministry Team (CMT) is to recruit Children’s Ministry workers. You may need Sunday School teachers, discipleship leaders, choir teachers, catechism leaders, many VBS workers, and more. To begin, I suggest that your guiding verse for this essential responsibility be Luke 10:2.
And Jesus said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
With the words of our Lord ringing in our ears, here are the practical steps for recruiting laborers into HIS harvest.
- PRAY for the laborers. Where else would we begin? But do we really start here? We need the the Lord of the harvest to dispatch laborers into the field of children’s ministry. We need the Holy Spirit to soften hearts and open ears to respond to the recruiting call. So the CMT must pray that the Lord will lead them to the right volunteers to minister to your children. You are not looking for “warm bodies,” but for those who are called to serve.
- Set the PARAMETERS clearly. What are the essential rules and processes that guides your recruiting? Here are our BIG THREE: (1) All workers must have been a member of the church for at least one year. (2) All workers must have unanimous support from the CMT (every member has veto power). (3) All workers must be approved by the Session (our elders). From there, you will need to decide what activities/programs require couples, and the ones which could use paired individuals. And, you always need to establish the basic requirements up front, especially length of service. For example, will your Sunday School teachers serve for six months, a year, two years, or more? All of this “process work” needs to be done well, with clarity, to make the recruiting more efficient.
- Be PRUDENT in your choices. Recruiting volunteers requires great wisdom! Of course, we humans are not infallible, so we will make poor choices from time to time. But it’s vital that the CMT makes the CHOICE, rather than just a bulletin announcement that reads, “Help wanted.” Don’t get me wrong, there is a time for a general open invitation to volunteer. But, even in that, the CHOOSING of laborers resides with the CMT. It is your responsibility, as leaders, to work together to (prayerfully) choose wisely.
- Be PERSONAL in your recruiting. Practically speaking, it’s a whole lot easier to turn down a recruiting email or text message than a personal phone call or visit. Spiritually speaking, it’s essential to make the recruiting process as personal as possible. As members of the Body of Christ, we are called to be connected to one another in ministry–so make that connection! People respond much better to a personal message like: “The CMT has prayed and chosen you to teach 5th grade Sunday School. Would you pray about accepting that call?” rather than an email which says, “We are looking for 5th grade teachers, would you like to volunteer?”
- Recruit Covenant PARENTS. Whatever activity or program you are recruiting for, you are looking for more than just volunteers–you need Covenant Parents. If you operate from the belief that the children of your church are essential members of the covenant community, then that makes ALL adults “covenant parents.” All adults are called to come alongside families to assist in the parenting the children of the church. So, you are looking for adults who take this covenant parenting role seriously.
- Be POSITIVE and winsome. The US Navy brilliantly used to advertise its careers this way: “It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.” We should take this example–seeking to “win” people to this ministry, instead of heaping false guilt or just as sense of duty on them. You must be careful not to recruit from a position of fear or desperation (even if it gets desperate at times!). Remember, this is the Lord’s harvest, not yours.
- Be PERSISTENT. You knew that had to be my last “P,” didn’t you? Recruitment is really a year-around task. Even when you have great people laboring in the field, you will always be looking for more. Encourage your CMT to never lose heart. It should be a joyous duty to seek out people to minister to the next generation, even in the face of regular frustration and rejection!