The LOVE Patrol

What is the most important volunteer role in your Children’s Church service? You might think it’s the teacher on stage, but actually it’s the members of the LOVE Patrol!

What is the LOVE Patrol?

The LOVE Patrol is what I like to call my volunteers that are “out and about” in the room among the children. In my kids service, which we call The Outpost, our official name for our helpers is Trail Guides, but I let them know they are on the “LOVE Patrol” during the service.

I borrowed the name “LOVE Patrol” from a church that I visited many many years ago and I think it’s fantastic! It sure is better than “crowd control” – because it communicates that their purpose is not control, but to love on the kids and help them get the most out of the service.

Train your volunteer helpers that their role isn’t to just sit in the back, or along the sides of the room, but to constantly be “on patrol” and watching the kids during the service. Contrary to what is often done – they are NOT looking for “bad behavior,” instead they are  actively moving about the room, studying the kids, and looking to see if there are any children who are not benefiting from the service and who need help focusing or being redirected or helped in any way during the experience.

It is loving patrol with a purpose.

While I loved the term “love patrol” to suggest it wasn’t policing the kids for bad behavior, but lovingly guiding the kids so they would get the most out of the service, I developed the concept by adding what L.O.V.E. could stand for in this context as you train your LOVE Patrol leaders.

Their job is to help make sure that each child is Listening, Obeying, Viewing, and Engaging in what is going on in the service.

Have your leaders memorize: Listening, Obeying, Viewing and Engaging. That is their goal. To make sure each and every child is listening, obey, viewing (looking foward) and engaging (participating) in the service.

If kids are distracted, being bothered (or bothering someone else), having trouble seeing the stage, or not participating, the LOVE Patrol’s job is to lovingly correct the situation so that the child can get the most out of the service. The child isn’t “in trouble” – they are missing out on the service and leaders job to is loving guide and help to correct whatever is preventing the child from getting the most out of the service.

The LOVE Patrol’s job isn’t discipline; it is to correct the situation so that the child can enjoy and benefit from the service. This may involve simply a gentle kind word, moving the child, having them sit with a leader, or whatever other loving action is required to help the child, or those around them get the most out of the service.

When I am teaching the very last thing I want to do is correct a child from the stage! That can embarrass a child, and I never want to do that. So when I see a child who is not participating or is doing something to distract those around them, I am counting on my LOVE Patrol to spot it and intervene so that I don’t have to. Often, I try to hint to a volunteer that a child needs an intervention so that I don’t have to do it from the stage. I might make a simple comment to the child, gently walk toward them and put my hand on their shoulder (instead of pointing at them!) or literally nod in their direction to a leader.

The LOVE Patrol team members have such a key role during a service because they determine how much the children will get out of the service. You can plan a wonderful service, but if children are distracted by another child or are struggling for any other reason, they can miss out on what God has for them. We get so little time with them, we need to make the time count!

If you are on the LOVE Patrol, know your role is critical to the impact God wants to have in the minds and hearts of each child in the service. If you are a teaching leader – make sure your volunteers embrace their role as a members of the LOVE Patrol. They aren’t just “helpers” keeping the peace or adding adult presence – they have a loving mission help make sure each and every child is Listening (and therefore learning), obeying (and therefore benefiting), viewing (and not missing anything) and engaging (so they remember!)

That’s why I believe the LOVE Patrol is the most important role in the Children’s Service!

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another
John 13:35

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