What Volunteers Really Learn When You Don’t Train Them

Let’s just be honest here.

Most kids ministry volunteers don’t get the kind of training they need to be effective. Time after time, churches learn this the hard way.

But have you ever asked what message are you sending to those workers? Here are 5 things they will learn if you do not train them.

  1. The church only cares about warm bodies to fill the roster.
  2. You are not concerned about their growth.
  3. What they actually do doesn’t matter – just show up.
  4. Kids ministry is a chore they must endure.
  5. They better learn to say “NO” next year.

So what’s your plan? Click here to respond.


  1. Becky says

    I was mentored, not formally trained but I have been involved in children’s ministry for more than 25 years now. I guess what I have learned is that the staff have to know that they are every bit a important as the kids . Just practical things like listening to their ideas and trying to implement them, showing my gratitude often with cards or small gifts, never demeaning them to a parent, and giving them opportunity to grow in every area of the ministry. I send handouts home each week that give tips on becoming a better teacher and have quarterly meetings with them. I also recommend books for them to read and build them up in front of the kids. Training can be a wonderful thing, but these are the things my mentor did for me and it’s what’s kept me in the ministry and passionate for all these years. Aside from encouraging them in their own personal walk with Christ (which goes along way in being what God needs the to be in their class) I think these things are very important.

  2. Tina says

    I became a teacher when the church split… Never had experience . I would love to be trained but I am also a full time mum with two kids and one coming soon and also a full time professional nurse. The church has no enough funds to send me to training coz it normally would be outside London . I depend on resources from different websites …. Learn them and creatively teach them. I watch videos and adapt their patterns of teaching…….

  3. Sharon says

    I agree – There is an old saying:, ‘If you motivate me without training me, you just frustrate me.’ Care enough to teach your teachers. Another saying goes, ‘ If we don’t model what we teach then we’re teaching something else.’ If you care for your children, and your church family, show it by giving them the help they need, otherwise the message you are sending is that they don’t really matter and are just numbers! Thank you for you wonderful and uplifting pages.

  4. says

    Great question. Here was a video post where I tried to make some suggestions about the fluctuating attendance planning.

    A bigger question would be how serious is the church about doing high quality kids ministry. It seems like some promotion of why the ministry matters might help get people’s attention.

  5. Arita Smith says

    Help! I have been superintentant at my Church for a year and getting help is nearly impossible. We have a very transient congregation and some weeks we may have three children other weeks can be 23. This makes it very hard to to organise anything. Just recently another of my volunteers resigned. She was a delightful old lady who felt she’d had enough. Any ideas? Arita.

    • Gary Harris says

      Get the book What Every Church Member Should Know About Poverty by Ruby Payne. It sounds like a lot of your kids come from a lower class structure. It helps us see the world from their perspective. As one older man riding the van said when I dropped off one girl after church, “She wakes up in a new world every day.” This is so true: mom could have a new boyfriend; they might move suddenly (as happens a lot because nobody has a job to pay the rent) which means a new house, new school, and new friends; if family services comes, they could have a new “family.” This is something that I have learned as children’s pastor in this type of neighborhood.

  6. Phyllis says

    Wow. What great feedback and information. Paula’s post was especially thought provoking. I was recently called to be the Children’s Director (part time) at our church. The curriculum had already been selected and there was no time to prepare or provide any training. I basically just put the box of curriculum in the classrooms. Fortunately most of my teachers are very experienced. Some of the things I have begun are a (short) monthly newsletter and regular emails. I visit the classes about once each term (I give the teacher advance notice) just to learn each teacher’s methods. I also find articles appropriate for specific age groups and give a copy to that teacher. I like the idea of a facebook page. I’m going to a teacher training conference in a few weeks. I hope to bring back materials and information to share with my leaders. For now I’m trying to keep information limited to a short, one topic communication. I think it makes it more likely they will have/take the time to review the information. When I get an extra minute, I will survey my teacher’s for topics and formats that they will find helpful and effective. Thank you for providing a format to think about this important topic and thank you all for sharing your thoughts, insights and ideas. May God bless each of us with wisdom and discernment as we minister His love to the children.

  7. Paula says

    Hi, I love your ideas. I wanted to suggest something to those of you who want to train and support your teachers but can’t get them to come. Can you do it by computer? Everyone seems to make time for going online. So can you make a video of yourself or put one online that everyone can watch? Also I think communicating by email each week would be great. I am a volunteer who has no training and no guidance from our Children’s Director. There is no communication except at church during the time we should be teaching! I need to know BEFORE that time what is expected. So I end up winging it. I was handed a boxed curriculum that I am not impressed with and that’s all the guidance I got. Thanks and God bless all of you for your efforts to teach the children God’s Word.

  8. Melissa says

    Thanks Robin for all your kind words of encouragement. I am praying that God will give me the ability to teach effectively. I do use a curriculum that the church provides. I just need to come up with an art project. I am so grateful that I have found this website to support my endeavors.

  9. Robin Jones says

    Melissa! What a blessing you will receive. Proverbs says that a wise person makes learning fun. Object lessons and games are always a hit. Your creativity and ability will grow quickly since you are coming up with your own ideas. I actually prefer letting God show me what to teach over using a curriculum. However, you can use websites like this to supplement and find ideas that work for you. God will give you all you need when you ask HIM. You will be great.

  10. christine martin-hegarty says

    Ouch !!!
    Spot on.
    This has been on my heart just reciently that we need to train volunteers just as if they were paid staff and treat them with the respect they deserve. They are a vaulable resource and teach out of love for the kids not financial gain. The most important part of the church is it’s young people it is the future of the church, most people accept Christ in their primary school years. How important is it then to have well trained people.

  11. Melissa says

    This topic couldn’t have come at a better time for me!!! I am just going to start to teach elementary school children at my church and I have never taught a class before in my life. I do feel God moving me to do this (not to mention the fact that there is a huge need for helpers at my church right now… another topic I suppose for another time…) but it doesn’t mean that I am not nervous… I want to teach them and keep them interested to learn. There is no training at my church. So I have decided to spend time sitting through a few classes to get the feel for how others are leading their classes of similar ages. But in all honesty, I feel like it is the blind leading the blind as I see things in those classes that I would not necessarily do in my class. But I guess that is what I am there for… to see what I should and should not do. I have to come up with my own ideas and I am going to be stretched in the area of creativity. Anyone have a great source for craft ideas, please let me know.
    I serve an almighty Lord and I know He will equip me with the right know how.

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