Need Children’s Ministry Volunteers? Do This One Thing.

Weston WilliamsonResources

Before I tell you how to get more Children’s Ministry volunteers, I’m going to tell you about something I hate.

I HATE grocery stores.

Though I’m not a list maker, I like to go into a grocery store with at least a game plan. My game plan consists of me having either a mental list or a string of text messages from my wife with the things we’re out of. I’m not there to socialize… I’m there to capture and conquer so I can quickly get back home to my spot on the couch.

So why do I hate grocery stores?

Is it because I can’t say no to the girl scout who benefits from my inability to turn down cookies?

NO

I hate grocery stores because there are too many options.

For example, my wife tells me to get a can of tomatoes. When I go to the “can-o-tomatoes” aisle I lose what little confidence I had in my ability to bring home dinner. Do I need plum tomatoes? Do I want them to be diced? Do they need to be ground? And someone, please tell me what on earth a “Tomato Filet” is!

This overwhelming list of options extends beyond tomatoes. There are like a million different brands of bread, peanuts, meat, and drinks. All of these options often have me calling my wife to the point where she tells me just to come home and let her handle it.

Thankfully, Trader Joes is another grocery store near us that helps me with the problem of having too many options. This store is about half the size of other stores and they have a very limited amount of brands and types. Sure they still have an obscene variety of canned tomatoes…but many of their items are limited to a select group of brands.

In essence, Trader Joes is telling customers “buy the stuff we have or go somewhere else”.

You would think this practice is bad business…but it works! This store is super popular and they enable their customers to buy groceries quickly and still be satisfied with what they got despite a lack of selection. No more having to call my wife and ask her what brand of bread she wanted me to get. I just get one and go.

Options In The Church-

The challenge of having too many options extends to volunteers within the church. This is especially true with regard to those whom you may be calling on to serve in the Children’s Ministry.

Here’s what happens:

You ask Jolene if she would be interested in helping out with the Children’s Ministry. You ask her what age group she is most comfortable with and you ask her what week/weeks work best for her. You may even ask her if she’s willing to commit to serving for a couple months.

Jolene says “let me check my schedule” or “let me pray about it”…and you never hear back from her again.

Why?

Because you asked her to serve and you gave her too many options. 

For a few years, I was a sales supervisor at a tech company that carried thousands of products. There were two big rules I ingrained in each salesman during our training:

  1. Never ask someone if they want to buy something. Tell them they are going to buy it and ask how many they need.
  2. Don’t give the customer too many options. Every option you give is just another opportunity for them to say no.

Obviously getting people to serve in a church is a little bit different from selling tech. But, those two rules are a foundation of persuasion. Getting Children’s Ministry volunteers requires that you persuade them smartly. After all, persuading someone means you challenge them. As a leader, you should be challenging the people around you.

Instead of asking and offering options to your “would be volunteers”…try telling them what you want them to do with few options.

Reword your conversation with Jolene to be something like this:

You: “Hey Jolene, you’re going to be here next week right?” (notice you limit her response to yes or no)

Jolene: “Yes I am, what’s up?”

You: “I need our preschool class covered for the first hour. I’m going to mark you down to teach with Tom. Here’s what we’ll be teaching the kids next Sunday. Tom will be doing the teaching primarily. If you’d like to chime in or do some of the teaching just get with him and you guys can split it up.”

Obviously, not everyone is called or should be serving in the Children’s ministry. Jolene may still decline your challenge. That’s okay. However, the chances of that happening are less when you word your requests like this.

I’ve seen Children’s Ministries grow exponentially by doing this. People need leaders who give direction that is clear and concise. Most people appreciate leaders that lovingly and humbly challenge them.

A Word Of Warning-

As you grow your Children’s Ministry, you need to schedule your people appropriately and give ample time off. I’ve seen firsthand Children’s ministries grow and quickly be snubbed out because leaders would not give their volunteers ample time off or lead lovingly and humbly. Some of the most successful Children’s ministries I’ve seen that have grown utilize a rotation in which volunteers serve a couple times a month on the same weeks.

The Takeaway-

Don’t ask people to serve in a ministry with many options.

Tell people to serve and give few options (aka opportunities to say no).

If you do it lovingly and humbly, you could find yourself encountering the problem of having too many volunteers. I’m no Einstien…but that’s a good problem to have!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I still need to find out what a Tomato Filet is!