How To Get Volunteers To Serve Weekly

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People are busy!  It is hard enough to get people to volunteer, so how can we ask them to serve every week?  Weekends are busy with family commitments, or time to relax and sleep in.  Volunteering weekly will be the most rewarding for volunteers but how can we get them to understand that?

At a recent Kids Ministry Volunteer Event, I encouraged people to consider going to the next level.  Most of my volunteers serve every other week, but I wanted them to really understand the difference it would make in them and in the kids, if they increased their commitment level to every week.

Our volunteer event had a “video game” theme.  I compared going to the next level in a video game to going to the next level in serving.  I made a PowerPoint Presentation.  The presentation includes some notes to help explain what the slide is about.

I also made a few handouts that I refer to in the PowerPoint Presentation.  I thought it was important to paint a picture of what we were looking for if one were to reach the “win”.  You can view and download that document here.

The other handout I made was a Serving Weekly FAQs.  I read this with them and helped them understand why serving weekly would be beneficial and some steps to consider to think about moving in that direction.

Finally, I showed a video of one of our volunteers who moved from serving once every three weeks to serving weekly.  This personal story really helped people feel like someone understands their hesitations, but if they are willing to try serving weekly, it will be very rewarding.  The person who shared their story in this video gave me permission to share her story with you so that it might help others switch to serving weekly too.  You can download the video here.  Please leave a comment below the video so I can encouarge her with the ripple effect of her story.

I know that serving weekly is not for everyone, but I think it’s good to encourage people to think about it.  It might be the experience that is life changing!

 

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Book Review: The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams

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This book has moved into the position of “Top 5 Must Have” books for Kids Ministry.  It is LOADED with information.

My friend Dale Hudson is the author of this amazing book.  This guy has tons of Kids Ministry Experience and really knows his stuff when it comes to kids, volunteers, recruiting, training and motivating.  His blog is loaded with resources and ideas on many different kids ministry related topics.  He has a humble spirit and an amazing servant’s heart.  I have visited the church many times where he was on staff as the Kids Ministry Director and my kids loved being in the kids program there.  He is an international conference speaker and trainer, and I have learned so much from this guy and his experience.  He is the author of several kids ministry books, and his most recent, The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams is one of my favourites.

Recruiting, training and motivating kids ministry volunteers is top priority when it comes to kids ministry.  The job is never complete.  New people come and go and we are always challenging our volunteers to go to a new level.  In his book, Dale talks about proven methods that work when it comes to recruiting volunteers.  He reminds us that people are drawn to vision, not desperation.  He walks us through a process to train volunteers, and to encourage them while they are serving so that they want to stay.  In this book, Dale gives practical ideas.  I like books that give you a how-to formula, and this book does just that!

Here are some of my favourite quotes from his book:

“The journey of ___ volunteers begins with one ask.”

“As a leader, your role is to be a coach to your volunteers.  As their coach, you are to develop them, bring out the best in them, empower them and release them to do ministry.”

“Invite to the WHY over the WHAT”

“How long people serve is in direct correlation to the depth of the relationships that they form with the people they serve with.”

“Encourage is how you keep volunteers motivated and excited about serving.”

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I wrote notes, highlighted and flagged great stuff throughout this book!  I pull it off my shelf regularly and have made a to do list from the things that I have learned in this book that will help take kids ministry at our church to the next level.  It has given me ideas for recruiting, training and keeping volunteers.  I have ordered this book and given a copy to each of my kids ministry staff and volunteer leaders.

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Dale has written other books which include:

If Disney Ran Your Children’s Ministry

Turbocharged!: 100 Simple Secrets to Successful Children’s Ministry

Turbocharged!: 100 Simple Secrets to Successful Preschool Ministry

I am not being paid to endorse this book, so you know that it’s really good if I am not benefiting from telling you about it.  However, it will benefit you and your kids ministry if you order his book today!

 

 

DIY Mailbox – Volunteer Appreciation Idea

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I finally finished a project that I have been working on for a few weeks.  I wanted to create a way for kids and parents to say thank you to the volunteers who help on Sunday mornings.  I created a mailbox, where kids can mail a thank you card.  We set up tables in an open area where parents and kids could work on making a card together.  Then, once they finished making their card, they could mail it in the mailbox.  At the end of the month, we will distribute all the thank you cards to the volunteers.  I printed off a list of all the volunteers for each room, so parents could find the names of the volunteers if they need them.  If you want to create your own mailbox, this is how you can do it:

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I went to my local used clothing/furniture store, and picked up this set of shelves.  Once I looked it over, I thought I could make a front part that would hold the “opening” where letters could be mailed.

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I own a jig saw & a sander, but that’s all.  I made a template out of poster board so that I could make any adjustments before I cut the actual wood.

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I assembled the template to make sure it would all fit together.  I took measurements, purchased the wood that I would need, and got the straight pieces of wood cut (for free) at Home Depot.  I just cut the curved pieces with my jig saw, and sanded everything down.

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Once the ‘drawer’ piece was cut and assembled using wood glue & finishing nails, I cut an opening in the front piece for the drawer to fit into.  I used 4 tiny hinges to attach the drawer to the front panel.

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I tested it out to make sure it would fit.  I sanded down the sides a little more so the drawer would open & close easily.  Before I attached the front panel to the shelves, I painted everything with 2 coats of paint.  I decided it would be easier to paint it before it was assembled.

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Once the paint was dry, I attached the front panel with screws.  I also attached the handle, and a sign holder from Staples.  I decided a to use a sign holder so I could change out the sign to use the mailbox for different projects.  I attached a larger piece of wood with hinges for the back, and used sticky velcro to keep it closed.

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I set up tables with cards, markers & instructions.  I found printable thank you cards from My Sister’s Suitcase blog.  You can download them for free HERE.

We will leave the supplies on the tables for all the Sundays in May, so families can have plenty of opportunity to participate.

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Once they finish making a card, they can put it in an envelope that is provided, write the volunteer’s name on the front, and mail it in the mailbox.

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So far, the mailbox has been very popular.  It’s a way for families to show their appreciation to the volunteers who serve their kids so faithfully.  At the end of May, we will collect all the cards, and distribute them to all the volunteers, making sure that each volunteer gets at least one.

 

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.

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.

DIY Volunteer Board

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I am always on the look out for new ways to remind my volunteers how thankful we are for each of them.  Recently, I created this board to help encourage them & celebrate the wins.  It includes the following:

  • a spot to post a notice about the free giveaway for that day
  • 3 spots to share success stories & thank you messages
  • photo wall – volunteers love to see other volunteers in action
  • a spot to post volunteer quotes & Bible verses
  • a spot for announcements or special messages

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I picked up the denim themed stuff from Michaels for 50% off.
The background fabric was from a fabric store.

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I keep a file of success stories & thank you’s that I can pull from to post on the wall.

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I take pictures with my phone almost every week of volunteers in action so that I have lots to chose from.
Printing them on the photocopier & cutting them to look like Polaroids are oh so cute!
Tiny clothes pins are also from Michaels.

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I created these chalkboard drawings by downloading free fonts & chalkboard graphics.  Check out Pinterest for ideas.

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I bought the hanging chalkboards from the dollar store.

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Look for people in your church who can donate things to give to your volunteers.
It helps keep the cost down of saying thank you.