Volunteer Recruitment: Why "Easy" Is the Wrong Motivation

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Easy and hard sign
Recently, I was talking with someone about volunteer recruitment in kids ministry.  A well-meaning conversant suggested we should publicize the fact that volunteering in children’s ministry is “easy.”
I totally understand the heart and sentiment behind the suggestion – that we need to help assuage the fear and trepidation that many people feel about volunteering in children’s ministry so that they will take that step into serving.
That said, I do have worry about trying to “sell people” on volunteering just because it’s easy.  Here is my reasoning:

  1. When we tell people that volunteering is easy, we devalue the work we all do in children’s ministry.  When we say, “Look, it doesn’t require hardly any effort at all.  If you’re willing to put in the minimum amount of time, you can do this too,” we sell short the hard work that we really do in children’s ministry of sowing a foundation of God’s Word in a child’s heart.  Things that are easy have very little value.
  2. The fact that something is “easy” is not a sufficient motivation for doing anything.  When I look around for something to do, I want something that will challenge me.  That fact that I can do something easy to check it off of a to do list is a lot less appealing than doing something difficult that will have eternal implications.
  3. When things are made “too easy” for people, they never take ownership of them.  You don’t want to give the impression to potential volunteers that you are just looking for warm bodies.  They should feel privileged to have to opportunity to volunteer in the most dynamic and impactful ministry in the church.
  4. When we endeavor to make things “easy” it gives the impression that who volunteers isn’t really important.  If it’s that easy, then anyone can do it.  You want volunteers to know that they are special, and we need them!
  5. Selling volunteers on “easy” will discourage them from being innovative.  Innovation happens in response to problems and issue that arise in the normal course of marriage.  If you make things “easy” on your volunteers then the only innovation in your children’s ministry will be limited to your own imagination.  In making things “easy” you effectively shut out all of the creativity of your volunteer team.
  6. In addition to discouraging creativity and innovation, if your volunteers start from the vantage point that their service in children’s ministry is supposed to be “easy,” you are likely to squelch any internal motivation that your volunteers bring to the table.
  7. If you sell people on “easy,” there is a good chance that you are lying to them.  If it’s done right, children’s ministry should not be easy no matter what your position is.  We should labor in preparation.  We should labor in prayer.  We should labor in grief over the eternal souls of the children we serve.  No, children’s ministry was not designed to be easy.

So, next time you’re out their recruiting volunteers, don’t take the “easy” approach.  Invite people to join your team and share your vision for the children’s ministry.   Explain to them the impact that they can have on children’s lives and invite them to a ministry that will be challenging, tiring, and fulfilling.
For more great articles for and about volunteers, check out Kidmin1124.com, the only blog on the internet written entirely from the perspective of bi-vocational and volunteer children’s ministers.

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