How Do You Solve a Problem Like Volunteerism?

Many children’s ministries desire to improve on how they work with their volunteers—how to recruit them, how to retain them, how to train them, how to deal with discipline or personality issues as they arise. Recruitment is probably one of the most common dilemmas.

Many churches struggle with having enough volunteers. Some have enticed adults from the church service, begging them to help out in this room or that, others have engaged in accepting more lax screening practices in their desperation, and others may choose to downplay or fail to address common problems in an effort to keep their volunteer numbers up. It can be hard to hear “get someone else” when you are desperately searching for just one person to step up.

How can this problem be combated? An excellent way is through preparing a job description for each of the volunteer positions needing to be filled. Specify every task (or as many as you can think of) that the position requires. Include a “Various duties as assigned” clause as a catch-all for anything you may have forgotten or have not considered. This will eliminate most protestations (“No one said I had to change diapers!”).

When you select a volunteer (or speak with your current volunteers, give them a copy of the job description. If they have medical issues which will make it difficult or impossible for them to perform the tasks in the job description, accommodate them, add an additional volunteer position in that room, or suggest a different volunteer position more suited for that individual’s needs and gifts.

In addition, speak with church leadership about making volunteering in a church ministry a requirement of membership. We are to serve one another in accordance with our gifts (1 Peter 4:13); for some of your members, such service will be with children. Many young people, particularly in their 20s and 30s, want to serve others, and being encouraged and challenged to do so will be a draw for them.

It is my firm belief that the Lord will honor such a commitment from His local churches, and will reward those who are willing to take the risk with the volunteers He has selected. Lift up your concerns to the Lord—He is more than capable of supplying all your needs.

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