You Don’t Have a Recruiting Problem.
You Have a Relationship Problem.
I have some hard news for leaders. This may come as a shock to some. You may need to sit down. Get a coffee or tea or soda… whatever you enjoy. But you need to hear me on this. There is a Grand Canyon of perception between why you serve in children’s ministry and why most volunteers volunteer.
You? You love kids! You knew long before Barna that there is a 32% greater chance of them coming to Christ if they are reached before the age of 12. You know Jesus said we ought to come as a child, not hinder the children, and blessed the children. You feel called to children’s ministry. You read Roger Field’s The Calling and it gives you goose bumps and you nearly cry because THAT’S YOU. You would serve if no one asked, no one noticed, and no one said thank you. Sure, you’d have your little pity party when no one was looking, and you’d whine to your spouse a little… but you’d never quit. Because, like Roger Field’s also said so well – You are a Special Ops Kidmin. The Few. The Proud. The kids need you. And lets be honest, you need them too.
But this creates a little problem for you.
You see, you assume others are this way. In fact, you are looking for and hoping to find others like this. I’ve got news for you. You may be the only one in your church. Actually, you may be the only one for a hundred miles!
Now, before you despair and cry “Woe is me!” – or get prideful, it’s O.K. I’m not so sure your church could handle two of you anyway. Or even the hundred mile radius around your church. God spaced us out for a reason.
What does this have to do with recruiting?
It has so much to do with it – you’ve GOT to get this! So many children’s pastors/directors/leaders don’t get it, and it is precisely why they have recruiting problems.
Their problem isn’t recruiting – they recruit just fine. But they don’t keep volunteers, so they have to constantly be recruiting, and that gets harder and harder as the pool of potential recruits runs dry. Their problem is misunderstanding what their REAL JOB is and WHY those volunteers volunteered in the first place.
There is a HUGE, and I mean MASSIVE disconnect between WHY YOU THINK YOU RECRUITED THEM and WHY THEY ACTUALLY VOLUNTEERED.
I know this, because I was a full time professional pastor for fifteen years, and now I’ve been a full time unprofessional volunteer for five years. So I’ve now lived on the “other side” and discovered the disconnect. And it’s startling.
People (let’s call volunteers what they really are, PEOPLE) come to church longing for two things, that are really the same thing: a connection with God and friendships. They are both: Relationship.
They complain that the church “isn’t friendly.” Right? So what do the pastors tell them? VOLUNTEER! “If you want friendships, don’t just sit in the worships service,” they tell these folks, “you must get involved.”
So they do!
WHY do they volunteer? Because like you, they want to fulfill the Great Commission and bring little children to Jesus?
Nope. Sorry. ‘Fraid not.
They want friends.
And they will give you MAX three months.
If they haven’t made friendships, they are done. They will volunteers somewhere else, and somewhere else, and then somewhere else, or visit another church – until they make friends.
People are starving for FRIENDSHIP.
You are looking for VOLUNTEERS
See the DISCONNECT yet?
The secret? Stop looking for volunteers. Start making friends. And you’ll have all the volunteers you need. I look back over my ministry and now realize why I never lacked for volunteers. I had friends. Tons of them! I took ‘em out to lunch. I used to fill Culvers almost every Sunday. The owner finally printed for me a BOX of 20% off on Sunday coupon business cards just to make sure I kept coming there. I partied with them. I visited them. I went camping. I played mini-golf. I had movie nights at my house. I forgot they were volunteers. They were my friends.
I hardly recruited. Of course, I had to at times, but I just made friends at every turn, and had all the volunteers I needed.
Now, I go to church looking for friends. I volunteer to find friends. If I serve and no one talks to me, no one greets me, no one asks me my name, or shakes my hand, or treats me like a person – if I’m just a volunteer, I lose interest. Even though I’m one of those Special Ops with all this passion and the biggest Kidmin website on the Internet. Without a friend, I’m outta there. Sorry, but that’s just reality. People need friends like a plant needs water.
If a lack of friendship can make ME lose interest – imagine someone who doesn’t have any passion for kids ministry? Someone who is just a normal everyday non-Kidmin wacko like me?
What’s to keep them around? They’d rather be an usher or fold up chairs after service if it means laughter and friendship and an invitation out to lunch after church.
DON’T MISS THIS: The ministry with the most volunteers will be the ministry where people connect and make friendships. If you don’t connect volunteers to yourself and each other, you will always be recruiting, over and over and over. Because you won’t be meeting the real need.
The need isn’t to staff your rooms - it is to help the people who come to your church to connect with God and each other. Do that, and your classrooms will all be staffed by friends. I dare you to try it.