No matter the size of your church or ministry, you’ll eventually find yourself asking the age old question… “Where do I get workers for my Children’s ministry?”
We’re going to explore six steps to recruiting from your own church body that are more effective than putting out a plea from the pulpit, in the Bulletin, in an email, or Facebook post.
1 | Know your leadership needs
Realize that each ministry needs a team. If you are working with children or students, you’ll want a minimum of one leader for every 6 students. Plan ahead for growth by having more than the minimum amount of leadership needed.
2 | Pray Over your Membership List
Look at all ages. Many times we look for leaders our age or for those that are younger. The younger leaders lend excitement and enthusiasm to our team with creative ideas, looking at everything through young eyes. Bringing older ones on our teams brings a balance of maturity. You do not need older folks who share “Well we always did it that way!” but some older leaders will understand the history of why things were done previously that will help in your decision making.
Work to have a variety of ages in your ministry team
Some only recruit married adults, but I have found both single and married leaders to be effective. The key in recruiting is drawing lines of expectations and limits for each generation of leaders. I have used young single people right out of high school on my team and helped recruit lay staff that was old enough to be my parents. We stretched and taught each other as we ministered together. As you pray, ask others to partner with you in prayer.
3 | Observe those you feel the Lord leading you toward.
How do they interact with others? How do they treat their spouses (if married)? How do they treat their children if they have a family? How do they treat others around them? Are they teachable? If they seem to be potential leaders and you have time to wait and observe them, invite them to help chaperone an event or sit in on a meeting.
4 | Make the “Ask”
When I was in my 20’s I did not know the need in our church for youth workers, but even if I did, I would not have volunteered. Two years prior in a previous church, I volunteered to help the youth pastor with the youth. He promptly laughed out loud at the ridiculous idea of needing help (he felt he was the only one qualified to serve in that area), so I got the idea that I was not qualified to work with youth. When my pastor at my present church came up to me and shared with me not only the need for workers but also his belief in me to grow as a leader, WOW. How could I say no?
Ask them personally to meet with you to consider an opportunity for ministry. Too often we wait and hope they ask to help
How will our people know to say “Yes” if we do not ask? If you just need one or two couples, meet with them one on one (or one on two, if meeting with a couple). However, if you need a whole team of leaders, you can meet with several at a time. I have worked with several churches who had this need. One church had a youth pastor, Joe, who with his wife “did it all” for 10 years. He got excited when he saw the tools we had and shared that this was exactly what they needed! His face fell as he said that he did not have the leaders to run the program effectively. I asked him to pray (he already “knew” what he needed). He already had sufficient time to observe his people. I shared that he needed to personally ask at least 12 couples to come to an informational meeting. (This would be a great meeting to ask your area missionary to come and share with these potential leaders).
At the informational meeting, it is important that you share your passion, vision, and need for the children or youth. Ask your Area Missionary to share any tools and training available. Have him share real stories of children or teens impacted. That was the process we used at Joe’s meeting. We also shared the expectations of each leader to be willing to be trained. We also shared that if we are expecting the children or teens to do a Quiet Time and Scripture Memory then we as leaders need to also do the same. Another expectation is for us to work as a team and to have excellence we need to have regular planning meetings (we do not want to just give them the idea that you just show up —there needs to be a commitment).
Share your passion, vision, and need for the children or youth workers
Here comes the key “Ask”. At the end of the meeting, whether one on one or a complete group, ask them to ask God for guidance. Ask them to ask God if He is leading them to join the team. Encourage them to pray for a week, and then contact them to see what God is telling them. What does this “Ask” do for you and the potential leaders? First, it takes the pressure off of both parties. You asked God to lead you to the right people. Now you are asking them to ask God if He wants them to enter into this partnership with you. If God says no, then it is God’s answer. If God says yes, it is God’s answer. Either way, it is God who is leading.
You are asking them to ask God if He wants them to enter into this partnership with you
Because you asked them to pray for a week, you should follow up after 7 days and ask the final question. Do not ask them what they want them to do, but ask, “What is God leading you to do?” I have so many actual stories of friends sharing “I am not sure how I can be used, but the more I pray, God will not let me rest until I say yes!” Remember my friend Joe? He was hoping for at least 3 couples out of the 12 couples he invited to accept his invitation. He called me a week later, excited that five couples had shared that God said yes! He did not know it yet, but he needed those leaders as his ministry multiplied. Realize regardless of the answer each person gives- yes or no- you can be excited that they talked to God for His answer.
5 | Offer Training
A major part of recruiting good leaders is making sure they are ready to start well. Provide training (remember- you shared this in your expectations). Set up times for them to learn the ministry tools, the ministry process, and the discipleship opportunities. Again, this is a great opportunity for your Area Missionary to come and do a complete orientation with you and your team. It also would be a great help for you and your leaders to read the “Resource Manual” which gives background and practical ideas for your team before the orientation. Have your team think through questions that can be addressed in this allotted time.
In addition, check for extra area or region-wide training meetings where you will learn from the area missionary and possibly other leaders who are veterans in the ministry. My team would joke and have a blast but also do an evaluation on the way to the meeting. On the way back we would discuss what we learned and how we could apply it to our ministry.
6 | Prioritize Planning
A key to retaining great leaders is having open communication with them.
Start with an annual Planning meeting. Lay out in detail your first 8 weeks so each person knows their ministry position each week. Then plan out the next 6-8 months with a general plan of the main events or themes for each month. We would make this available to the parents so they knew what was coming up. This helped make the parents our partners in ministry. Part of the planning is to set up monthly meetings to actually evaluate the past four weeks and plan in detail the next month. This will keep you up to date with the blessings and needs of your team.
The new leaders that you recruit, train, plan, and minister with will quickly become friends that feel like family. The very leaders I worked with over the years remain friends, even after I went into full-time ministry. You do more than run weekly meetings, you expand your ministry with different personalities and giftings of your team. Your team together will impact children, teens, and parents for eternity!