Now you have volunteers. Great! So how do you keep and maintain them? How do you keep their passion for serving your children’s ministry burning? Make sure you are providing for the four inner needs of volunteers. Feed the volunteers’ needs. Most children’s pastors and nursery directors are incredibly attuned to the needs of their children and the needs of the children’s ministry staff; they may not always take time to consider the needs of the volunteers: Grace, Relationships, Ownership, and Worth or “GROW”.
Grace: just as grace has been given to you and to the children in your ministry, grace has also been given to your volunteers. One way to show your gratefulness for this grace is to show grace to your volunteers.
They will have off days. They will sometimes fail or make mistakes. They will forget to call in when their child is sick or will be called in to work at the last minute. They will forget to use the sweeper or tie the diaper pail trash bag so the custodial staff may remove it. Let us remember that God’s grace is as sufficient for our volunteers as it is for us (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Relationships: give the volunteers time to meet and talk together. Give them an arrival time earlier than the time the children are expected to be dropped off. Create a Facebook group, other social media group, or email-list for your volunteers and keep everyone up to date through that group
Arrange for a monthly, quarterly or annual training, depending on your needs. Require volunteers to assemble fifteen minutes early and pray together. The opportunity for them to be involved, even in a small way, in the lives of others on their team will help to develop relationships between them.
Ownership: express needs to the volunteers and allow them to step up to the plate. Do not solely delegate tasks to them. If your volunteers believe that their input is valuable and that they are allowed to make their volunteer ministry “their own” in some small way, they are more willing to remain on your team and continue to serve your church.
If a volunteer has a particular gift that she would love to use in ministry, casually mention a need. (“One of my goals for this year is to have a new mural painted on the wall of the children’s wing”) and pray. The Lord may stir up in the volunteer’s heart to step forward and serve you in ways you do not expect—and could not if you had doled out an assignment!
Worth: Look for ways to affirm the worth of your volunteers and show appreciation for them. You may choose to buy small gifts once a year to thank your volunteers. Having an annual volunteers’ luncheon or dinner will likely encourage them as well. Do not, however, confuse such gifts as a “reward” for service, but consider them matters of grace. Do not fall prey to the temptation to play favorites and affirm one volunteer (or volunteers) more than others.
G.R.O.W.ing will not happen overnight, nor will it be easy, but when you disciple your volunteers using those four components you will one day reap what you have sown—maturing adult disciples who are, in turn, even more passionate about discipling the next generation.