Changing Curriculum? How To Transition Your Volunteers To Something New.

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Change is usually pretty difficult for most people.  If you are thinking of trying something new when it comes to lessons in your kids ministry, it’s probably a good idea to help your volunteers process the change.  Here are some things I learned along the journey of transitioning my team to a new curriculum.

  1.  Do your research.  Before you decide to make the change, find out what your volunteers like about your current curriculum, and what is not working.  Then research what options could potentially solve some of your challenges, or take your kids ministry to a new level.
  2. Decide on your budget.  There are some really great FREE options out there that are worth investigating.  Life Church’s Kids Curriculum, Crossroads Kids Club, NewSpring Church and Kids Kount Publishing are some great FREE options.  If you have some $$ to spend, then there are many options available.  When I transitioned my team of 200 volunteers, we switched to The Gospel Project for Kids.
  3. Communicate.  You can never over communicate.  Email short emails.  Send volunteers little bits of info at a time.  Send them sample videos.  Send them a sample lesson.  Let them know some of the benefits the new curriculum will bring.
  4. Invite them to a meeting.  Invite your key leaders or teachers to come to see and hear about the new curriculum.  Have samples printed off, and outline what changes will be taking place.
  5. Take the new Curriculum on a Test Drive.  Tell your volunteers that you are going to try something new.  They might be more open to a ‘test drive’ than a big change that is set in stone.  Try it out for a few months, and then decide if you are going to keep going with the new curriculum.
  6. Ask for Feedback.  Ask how things are going.  Tweak things along the way that need tweaking.  Listen to your volunteers to see if the new curriculum will be helpful or you need to go back to the drawing board.

Preschool Worship Videos

NewSpringPreschoolWorship

Preschoolers love to sing!  When looking for some new Preschool Worship Videos, I found some from NewSpring Church.  They have done a great job of making videos for preschoolers.  You can view them for free on YouTube.  Here are some of the songs we are doing with the preschoolers at our church.

  1.  Guess What
  2.  Jump Around
  3.  When I Look

Here are some ideas that you can use to help your preschoolers participate in worship time:

  1.  Have preschoolers stand/sit on a mat.  You can buy small size mats (from Target for about $3) that are just big enough for a preschooler to stand on.  When it’s time to sing, have them stand on their mat & it helps to define the space where they should stay.
  2. Songs on Video.  If you can play videos on a screen it will help take your preschool worship time to a whole new level.  However, it’s important to have a person lead the songs from the front while the video is playing, and do not use the video as a replacement for human interaction.
  3. GO BIG.  Choose songs that have people doing actions on screen.  Then get all the helpers in the room to do the actions too.  Big, over-exaggerated actions help kids to participate.
  4. Simple Words.  Choose songs that have just a few lines that are repeated over and over.
  5. Repeat the same songs.  We do the same 3 songs every week in our preschool room.  The kids will learn the songs and be able to participate easier if you keep the selection to just a handful of songs.

New Kids Worship Videos

no one like you

I was looking for some new Kids Worship Songs and came across some new videos by Summit Creative Company.  There are several things I like about these videos:

  1.  Contemporary Sound.  I’m not sure what is ‘contemporary’ these days, but these songs have a sound to them that is current with pop culture.  Kids like these songs because the style is familiar to them.
  2. Lyrics on the screen.  Short, simple phrases on each frame are easy to follow.  Even if the kids can’t read yet, the lyrics help the volunteers in the room sing the songs.
  3. Motions on the screen.  My biggest challenge when doing songs with kids?  The leaders forget the motions.  Sometimes volunteers do different motions from week to week, or the motions vary from volunteer to volunteer.  Having the motions on screen helps to keep the motions consistent.
  4. Visual Effects.  They use several different effects throughout their videos to keep kids attention.
  5. Great words.  Most of their songs really focus on God.  When kids are in our program, we have limited time, so I really want to make sure that the lyrics we sing focus on how amazing our God is.

Click Here to view a sample from Summit Creative Company.  You can find more of their songs on Worship House Kids website.

 

 

Finding & Keeping Volunteers – Workshop PowerPoint Slides

FindingandKeepingVolunteers

I have taught several workshops/classes on how to find & keep volunteers.  Here is a PowerPoint Presentation that I used at a recent event. (link at end of page)

When it comes to Recruiting Volunteers, here are few ideas:

Strategy – Write down the positions you need.  Then make a list of all the people you can think of to ask.  This is where people get stumped.  Sometimes you can’t think of anyone to ask, or all the people you have asked have graciously declined.  So now what?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Pray.  Ask God to give you names of people to ask.
  • Connect with other people.  So maybe you don’t know who to ask, but you can ask other people to help you come up with names.  Ask another pastor or leader.  Ask the person who leads the ladies or men’s group.  Ask the person who leads the youth group.  You get the idea.
  • Go to events to meet new people.  Go to the outreach events.  Go to the Christmas Events.  Be a greeter at the door for a Sunday morning or two.

Raise the Awareness – Tell the story about your ministry.  Tell the good things!  No one wants to be part of a sinking ship.  Of course there are going to be things that are less than ideal about your ministry, but you need to tell the story of things that are going well, and lives that are being changed.  Make a video, post pics, make a display in a high traffic area at your church.  You can see an example of a video that we made for our Special Friends Ministry here.

Ask – Many people who recruit volunteers will tell you that the most effective way to get volunteers is to personally ask people!  That can be done in person, via email or a phone call.  The key is to call someone by name and ask if they would be interested in helping with a specific role. (vs. hello parents, please help us)

You Get What You Ask For – Instead of asking people, “How often can you help?”  Ask them if every week or every other week will work better for them.  It gives them some options, and it gives you the commitment that you need.  If you are just asking people to help once a month, they are not there often enough to reap the rewards of volunteering.  They will probably not see life change in the kids they are helping with, and they will almost always be less invested and treat their role more like “let’s just get this over with” instead of “how can we make this hour be the best it can possibly be while I am volunteering here with them”.  And, if you are asking for people to help once a month, you are going to need 4x the number of volunteers.  If you are already short on volunteers, why multiply the number of people that you need?

Have a Back Up Plan – So you have personally asked someone to help you, and they tell you that they are not able to do what you are asking.  What are the things that are stopping them?  Not the right role?  Not the right time?  Not what they love to do?  Then have a back up plan.  If they can’t do the thing you are asking them to do, would they consider a different role?  Maybe they can help with admin prep or photocopying.  Maybe they can check references for you.  Maybe they can be a substitute helper on call.  If you do your homework before you ask the person, there is probably something that would work for them.  It gets them to see the bigger picture of your ministry & maybe they would be willing to move to a more committed role in the future.

Hopefully these ideas will help you on your journey to finding volunteers.  And remember, it’s a journey.  Constantly recruit.  It’s not a one time event!

You can view the PowerPoint Presentation here.

 

 

Kids with Special Needs Ministry – Recruiting Video

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 11.12.01 AM

Special Friends is the name of the ministry that we have at our church for a one-on-one buddy system for children with special needs.  This fall we have an increased number of children with special needs.  We want to do everything we can to help them learn in a way that works the best for them while they are in our Kids Program.  Their Special Friend connects with them & builds a relationship with them like no other volunteer in our Kids Ministry.  I love seeing the Special Friends Teams together!

We created a video to help raise awareness about our Special Friends Program at our church.  Hopefully people will realize the huge impact a Special Friend has on a child.  We are showing this video in our Sunday Morning service & then will share it on social media.  You can view the video we made here:

Whether you are creating a recruiting video for special needs or another ministry in your church, you should include the following:

  1.  Real people.  People want to hear about things that are actually happening in the lives of real people.  That’s why reality TV is so popular in our culture.
  2. Tell a story.  Tell about the challenges the person is facing & the impact the ministry is having on them.
  3. The difference.  Tell about the difference in their lives.  Without this ministry, this family’s life would be drastically different.
  4. Ask for help.  Once you tell the story, ask people to come and be a part of making a difference, so that more lives can be impacted.
  5. Next step.  Provide a way for people to respond.  A website, an email or a contact person.

With an Iphone and movie editing software, you can create a recruiting video that will tell the story of the ministry you want to highlight.

How Gru (from Dispicable Me) can teach your Small Group Leaders how to “OWN” their role instead of “RENT” it

despicable-me-GruGetting volunteers to “OWN” their ministry can sometimes be difficult.  Sue Miller & Adam Duckworth talk about this in one of the chapters in their book, “Not Normal” which can be found here:
http://www.amazon.com/Not-Normal-Quirks-Incredible-Volunteers/dp/1941259154/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1435792421&sr=8-1&keywords=not+normal+sue+miller

Basically, it’s about caring more about what they do.  It’s about doing the best they can possibly do, for the maximum impact.

WingClips is a website that takes clips from movies, and categorizes them by theme.  This is helpful when looking for a video clip to illustrate a point.  On this website, there are two clips from “Despicable Me”.

Clip #1http://www.wingclips.com/movie-clips/despicable-me/sleepy-kittens

Gru reads a bedtime story to the 3 girls who come to live with him.  He basically doesnt’ want to read it to them, but he agrees to read it, just to get them to stop bothering him.

Clip #2http://www.wingclips.com/movie-clips/despicable-me/changed-his-heart

Gru has had a change of heart.  The children have had an impact on him that he wasn’t expecting.  He has grown to love them.  This time he reads a bedtime story to them with a whole new attitude.  It’s a story that he wrote himself and shows how much his heart has changed towards them.

These two clips are a great illustration of the difference in the approach a Small Group Leader can choose to take.  One approach is basically doing the job to get it done.  The other shows what can happen when a leader takes the time to care for their kids.  Both the kids & the leader are changed.

Many thanks to one of my amazing volunteers on my kids ministry team who came up with this idea.  Way to go Anne!

Are Your Volunteers Going in Circles?

Concentric Circles for Volunteers

When I think of volunteers, this is the picture that I have in my head.  Volunteers are in different stages.  Some are new, or come occasionally while others are the committed people that do the majority of the work.  As I look at these circles, here are some thoughts:

1.  Always be recruiting to your outer circle.  Ask people to be helpers.  Ask them to help with admin work, or organizing stuff.  Ask them to help with shopping for supplies.  Ask them to help at special events.  Ask them to help as fill-ins or floaters.  Ask them to serve once a month.  When you find you have only a few leaders, and can’t think of anyone to ask to fill leadership roles, it is probably because you haven’t been recruiting to your outer circle on a regular basis.

2.  People need to spend time in the outer circles before moving towards the inner circle.  It gives you time to get to know them, and find out what they are passionate about or what they are gifted at doing.  It also gives them time to learn about your culture & what you value in your ministry.

3.  Help volunteers move towards the inner circle.  Help irregular volunteers become regular volunteers by providing opportunities that will fit their passions, gifts & availability.  Help regular volunteers become leaders by showing them how their influence can be multiplied as they lead a team of people.

4.  To help people move towards the inner circle, you will need to personally ask them.  Go for coffee with them, share your vision & help them see how the shift towards the middle will be a win/win for them & for the people they are serving.

5.  Spend time with your inner circle.  Encourage them & appreciate them.  Motivate them & challenge them.  Invest in them.  Take them to conferences & visit other churches to help them grow.  Remind them why we do what we do.