At the first of every calendar year, I tend to spend a lot of time planning but no plan can be worked successfully without good help, right? I don’t know about you but it feels is more challenging to locate volunteers than it was twenty years ago. Maybe it really isn’t more difficult, maybe it’s simply that potential volunteers (and repeat helpers) have more specific needs—needs that we should be meeting. I talked to past and present volunteers to ask them what they honestly expected from their volunteer experience. Maybe sharing their answers here will help us to meet the needs of our partners in ministry.
“When I volunteer to serve a leader in children’s ministry, I expect clear guidelines and structure.” (The anonymous commenters went on to say that working in a ministry with an unclear ministry vision or goal left them feeling frustrated and confused. Volunteers express a desire to know the chain of command, in case they needed help.)
“When I volunteer, I like to be encouraged. I’m really unsure when it comes to my abilities so I tend to seek validation and encouragement. Not every time, of course, but hearing ‘Good job’ or ‘When you led that game the kids loved it,’ really encourages me.”
“As a volunteer, I want to be given the chance to get better at teaching. I’d like some training!”
“I like knowing what I’m supposed to be doing before I get there. I hate scrambling around at the last minute trying to decide who goes where. Please have a plan for me.” (I have to remember that volunteers don’t know what I’m thinking—I’m kind of a “Mad Scientist” at times so this requires discipline for me.
“I’d like someone to pray with me and I want to pray for my team. I expect that interaction when I volunteer. I don’t want to just show up and then leave.”
“When I volunteer, some of my favorite times are fellowshipping with other helpers. I love the banquets we have and getting to know everyone. Some of my best friendships have come from my time working as a children’s ministry volunteer. Oh, and I also like getting to know the parents.”
“I want, hope and expect that I will get to talk to my leader about my dreams for ministry. I’d like some help planning my next steps in my personal ministry.”
“I would like my leader to help me identify what areas I am strong in and maybe a few that I am weak in. I’d like to grow!”
“When I volunteer, I want to be respected and appreciated. I strongly dislike volunteering in a department when the leader or leaders barely speak to me. I want to feel like I belong.”
“Please be there for me. I expect you to care when I am hurting. I try not to bring drama to the children’s department but sometimes you can’t avoid having a bad day. I might need a hug or two.”
Read more from Mimi by following her blog at Tools for Kids Church.